Angela and Leo Smith are finding out how generous strangers can be. Leo suffers from Lou Gehrig's Disease and can't walk on his own. Angela carries him up and down the stairs to his trailer home in Tracy. Last month a burglar stole the $500 they had saved to build a wheelchair ramp. Angela believes the thief is a former tenant of the trailer park who befriended them.
"He stole from a man who is suffering, who everyday is fighting to stay alive," said Angela.
The two were married only last February. Leo was a car salesman and former cook who was active until just a few months ago. He likes to go outside, something that could happen more often with a ramp.
"It would give him his freedom back. After getting the ramp, he could use an electric wheelchair. Once he has his wheelchair he can go in and out as he pleases," said Angela.
During his latest visit to the doctor, they recommended that Leo be admitted to the hospital, but he chose to go back home. He needs oxygen to breathe. His one joy is watching TV on a large flat screen TV he got for father's day, but the thief took care of that too.
"I just bought that TV…somebody stole it," he whispered.
Building supplies sit outside the trailer, materials purchased at a discount from Home Depot. But the Smith's are struggling to pay the rent. Angela was still upbeat. "Things started out bad, but they'll get better. We still have each other and that's the important thing," said Angela.
Shortly after our interview, a man who didn't want to identify himself to Fox40 delivered a flat screen TV with his two sons that he bought at Costco. Talking about the theft he told Fox40 "that just didn't sit well with me."
Throughout the day Angela fielded phone calls from people who had read a Tracy Press article about their predicament. There were several offers to build the wheelchair ramp by contractors, some volunteers with the Tracy Fire Department, and a Tracy police officer.
"That makes me feel good that there are people in Tracy that do care," said Angela.
She said the construction could begin tomorrow. Donations can be made by calling the Smiths at 209-839-1724.
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