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Local caregiver raising money to replace stolen wheelchair, vehicle

Roxanne Drayton of Coram says she's hopeful that people will open their hearts for a mother in need.

Roxanne Drayton of Coram talked with Newsday on Friday about how she is seeking the public's help to raise money to replace her stolen vehicle, which had a specialized wheelchair for her son, who has Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and seizures. The vehicle and wheelchair were stolen from her driveway last month. (Credit: Newsday / Shelby Knowles)

A Coram mother is seeking the public's help in raising money to replace a specialized wheelchair and vehicle for her disabled son. The items were stolen last month.

Roxanne Drayton was at home on Nov. 8 preparing to pick up her son, Todd, 28, who has Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and seizures, from Stony Brook University Hospital. She left her 2002 Ford Explorer running with the keys in the ignition, she said.

A thief stole the Ford Explorer from the driveway, Drayton said, with Todd's custom-built wheelchair — his only mode of transportation — in the back. The vehicle has yet to be recovered and the wheelchair is not insured, she said.

Drayton says her son has been largely homebound for the past month, and she is reliant on a smaller, less comfortable loaner wheelchair to take him to medical appointments.

"This was Todd's only lifeline to the outside world," Drayton said Friday. "It was my life. The thief does not know what they did when they stole my life."

A single mother who is a 24-hour-per day caregiver for Todd, Drayton said she could not afford to replace the $8,000 wheelchair, which was obtained through Medicaid. The agency, she said, is refusing to replace the device because it was obtained last year, and she is not eligible for a renewal.

Suffolk Police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron empathized with Drayton, noting that the wheelchair "is essential for the care of her son. This mom's life is difficult enough and this just makes it more difficult."

Drayton has created a GoFundMe page to raise money to replace the wheelchair and the stolen SUV. As of Saturday morning, she had raised more than $10,000.

Drayton says she's hopeful that area residents will open their hearts and their wallets for a mother in need during the holiday season.

"I hope they find a place in their hearts for us and can lift us up," she said. 

Cameron urged Suffolk residents to never leave their keys in the ignition unattended, noting that it's the most common way vehicles are stolen in the county.

Correction: Roxanne Drayton is from Coram. An earlier version of this story misstated the community.

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