Eleven days ago, Mike Myers saw the darker side of humanity when the three-wheeled scooter the multiple sclerosis patient used to haul groceries was stolen from his Mesa home.
“It doesn’t make any sense at all,” he said. “It’s just a tricycle, people. It’s just a big trike. “It’s like stealing from a baby. I’m a big baby.”
Humor and ingenuity are two of the tools Myers, 39, has used to cope as the disease has eaten away at his sensory system for half of his life and ended his electrical engineering career nine years ago.
Over the last week, his faith in humanity has been renewed in a big way. Since
the Tribune first reported the theft of his $850 scooter, $8,500 has poured in from local groups and individuals touched by his plight.
“I had no idea there were so many fabulous people out there,” he said. “I want to say thank you very much, because I really need this sort of help.”
All the human kindness stuns even those leading the charge, such as David Cordero, a member of the council at Mesa’s First Evangelical Lutheran Church.
“I’m amazed at how this is blossoming into something that can help quite a few people,” he said.
Cordero said at least four mobility companies and the Sun Lakes sheriff’s posse have offered scooters and wheelchairs. But Myers doesn’t need them because he already has such scooters, which aren’t as versatile or powerful as his stolen trike. They will be donated to others in need.
This is just a fraction of the aid that’s flowed in over the last week. His church, located close to Myers’ home near Alma School Road and University Drive, set up the Michael Myers Wheelchair Fund. Within six days, almost 70 checks adding up to $2,500 had come in. Cordero also sits on the board of the local chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a nonprofit financial services corporation that donates millions of dollars a year to charitable causes.
The board voted this week to contribute $3,000 to match the local contributions and another $3,000 to make badly needed conversions to the house Myers has lived in for 16 years. Over the years he’s fashioned ramps for his front and rear doors out of plywood or pavement stones covered with concrete, but his scooters occasionally tip over on them. The 6-inch lip at the bottom of his shower stall has become increasingly difficult for him to clear.
Now that he has money and police appear no closer to solving the crime, Myers needs to figure out whether he should even buy another trike. The trike could carry a bigger load than his two other scooters and its top speed of 10 mph doubles what they can do.
But his weakening legs were making it more difficult for him to operate it. Just before the theft, he took a spill that left him helpless on the sidewalk for 10 minutes. One of the mobility companies that has offered help is Apria Healthcare, which is sending Philip Swanson to Myers’ home Thursday, to help him figure out what kind of mobility device would best suit his needs.
“We make a pretty good living doing this, and when you get a chance to meet with somebody just to be of service to them, it’s the feel-good part of our job,” Swanson said.
It’s unclear what kind of scooter Swanson will recommend, so how much the new device will cost is still up in the air.
“I don’t think the expense is going to be too much, and if it is, I’ll have to do without,” Myers said. “Whether it’s the Lutherans, or the Methodists, or the Christians, or any group out there. I’m not going to rely so much on them so that I’m a burden.”