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Some Jerk Stole A Toddler's Wheelchair, Some Hero Replaced It

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Some jerk stole a wheelchair from a 4-year-old girl who was born without legs. Then, some hero replaced it.

Last weekend, someone stole a special wheelchair that belonged to 4-year-old Milagros Perez. Milagros was born without legs and with a number of health problems, including a heart condition. She was not expected to survive. Her name, which means "miracle" in Spanish, was chosen by her parents because she did survive, according to the OC Register.

Milagros uses a special wheelchair to get to school. It was custom built to help the girl's posture. Her family typically stored the wheelchair in a common area at their apartment in the 400 block of South Flower Street in Santa Ana, but the chair disappeared sometime between 10 p.m. Saturday night and 8 a.m. Sunday morning, the L.A. Times reports. The family searched for the chair at local pawn shops, but when nothing turned up, they reported the theft to the police on Tuesday.

Santa Ana Police Department spokesperson Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said he wasn't sure why anyone would steal the chair. "[O]ther than to melt it down for money," he said, "there's no reason [to want it] unless you're a 4-year-old without legs."

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Milagros' mother, Rosa Perez, said she used an insurance program to get the chair—a wheelchair like Milagros' can cost between $8,500 and $10,000—two years prior, otherwise she wouldn't have been able to afford it.

Goodness, as it turns out, prevailed this Thanksgiving. Soon after the news of the theft broke, Joyce Brandman stepped in to replace it. Brandman had seen Milagros' story on NBC Los Angeles and donated $10,000 to the Saul Brandman Foundation, which the family in turn used to buy their daughter a new wheelchair.

Bertagna said that Milagros had expressed excitement during their investigation at decorating a Christmas tree, which the family had been planning to pick up on Wednesday.

"So the officers went to the Home Depot and told [the manager] about what happened to this little girl and they just gave it to us," Bertagna said.

Officers dropped off the tree, ornaments, some toys and a Thanksgiving dinner to the family.

Perez said the the theft of the chair made her angry, as caring for the little girl can often be difficult, "But for Thanksgiving I just have to be happy that she's happy… and it looks like she is."

Police are still searching for the original wheelchair. Anyone with information can contact Santa Ana police at (714) 245-8029.

Update, 12:00 p.m.: The wheelchair has been returned. Bertagna told the OC Register, "Dad got home this morning, it was clean and put in a plastic bag in front of the house." Bertagna said they don't know who brought the chair back, but that police were investigating this morning.