Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Coronado Community Races to Replace Stolen Wheelchair Bike; More than 130 Residents and Businesses Donate

Discover Coronado steps in to cover remainder needed for new wheelchair bicycle for Camp Able.

It’s been a whirlwind for Jenelle Nettles, who runs Camp Able, a beach-based summer camp for people with disabilities.

First, someone stole the camp’s much-loved wheelchair bike. It happened two weeks ago at Silver Strand State Beach when staffers were unloading supplies, preparing for the start of the camp.

Then, news about the stolen bike—which is valued at $6,500—started bouncing around social media. The theft saddened and angered many residents. Then, it inspired them to do something… to donate money to Camp Able so the organization could purchase a new bike.

Community members started sending money by Venmo. They donated on the organization’s website and they mailed in checks. Nettles said that more than 120 residents donated by Venmo alone. She says she’s blown away by the generosity.

“It’s a really special organization,” said Lisa Solis, a Coronado resident and music teacher who works with Camp Able, and who also donated to the bike. “The wheelchair bike is essential in making magical experiences happen for the campers.”

But sadly, the donations weren’t enough.

Camp Able was still more than $2000 short and time was running out.

Nettles says that the wheelchair bike is one of the camper’s favorite activities, as it allows campers who can’t pedal or steer enjoy the experience of riding on a bike. Each year, the camp hosts around 500 disabled campers. Many of them are nonverbal, but are still able to express joy when riding the bike.

“Many of the parents have seen the bike and tell me they want to get one like that on their own, but when they see how much they cost, they can’t afford to do that,” said Nettles.

Then on Friday, she got a phone call that turned everything around.

It was Todd Little from Discover Coronado, a marketing organization that promotes to attract meetings and conventions at four local hotels: Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa, Glorietta Bay Inn, Hotel del Coronado, and the Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

Little asked Nettles how much funding was needed to close the gap.

“She said they were about $2,500 shy,” said Little. “It resonated with me.”

He says he called Harold Rapoza from the Hotel del Coronado, who is also Discover Coronado’s chairperson. Little says he was eager to help.

They cleared the donation with Discover Coronado’s treasurer, who suggested they provide $3000 to help cover shipping and other costs. They were able to move fast.

“We have a community partnership budget that lets us pull the trigger quickly when there’s an urgent need,” said Little. “Our support is meant to complement the incredible support of other donors.”

Hotel Del Coronado General Manager Harold Rapoza presents the donation to Jenelle Nettles of Camp Able. Rapoza oversees the Discover Coronado advisory board, whose mission is to attract overnight groups and guests at local hotels. Discover Coronado, which is funded by the 1% assessment paid by overnight guests at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort, Glorietta Bay Inn, Hotel del Coronado, and Loews Coronado Bay Resort, enriches the community by generating taxes that pay for public safety, local facilities, community grants and city staff.

Nettles didn’t see it coming. “I was surprised, I was shocked!” she says. “We are so grateful for the support of this community. And the parents that have heard the good news, they are just so thankful.”

Nettles has sent an email to the wheelchair bike manufacturer to initiate the purchase. She’s hoping to have the new bike in three or four weeks. Any donations that are left over will go into a fund to buy a second wheelchair bike.

The wheelchair bike allows campers who can’t pedal or steer enjoy the experience of riding on a bike. It’s valued at $6,500.

Coronado resident Kirby Barnum, who also donated, was relieved to hear that the bike was going to be replaced.

“So thrilled to hear that Discover Coronado is handling the balance…outstanding!” she shared on social media.

But Little says it’s really about the generosity of local residents and businesses.

“This is truly a village initiative,” he said.


Christine Van Tuyl
Christine Van Tuylhttp://islandgirlblog.com/
Christine was born and raised in Texas, but moved to Coronado with her family as a teen in 1993. Although initially horrified by surfers, flannels and skateboards, she ultimately grew to love all things So-Cal. A graduate of UCSD, Christine got her first writing job on the KUSI ten o’clock news while simultaneously juggling a reporter position at the San Diego Community News Group. She worked as a public relations professional, a book editor, real estate professional, and a freelance writer before eventually succumbing to motherhood in 2008.A decade later, Christine resurfaced to start the Island Girl Blog, a Coronado lifestyle blog. In addition, she writes a monthly page for Crown City Magazine. Christine loves hanging out with her husband, Ian, and their two spirited daughters, Holland and Marley, who attend Village Elementary and Coronado Middle School. When she’s not working, you’ll find her practicing yoga, spilling coffee at school drop off, meeting friends for sushi, or sailing the Bay with her family and English Bulldog, Moshi. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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