Volunteers help man after wheelchair ramp stolen

Volunteers help man after wheelchair ramp stolen

Credit: KING

Volunteers for IAM District 751 build a wheelchair ramp for Tim Owens of Seattle after someone stole his, Feb. 28, 2014.

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by MEG COYLE/KING 5 NEWS

KING5.com

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 6:15 PM

SEATTLE -- From his tiny front porch, Tim Owens sat a man broken -- his life in pieces.

Thieves had ripped off his wheelchair ramp and with it, his link to a life of volunteerism and independence.

"It's my life, it's my life," Owens said.

But Friday?

"I was in total despair yesterday and today I have hope."

That hope was found in the form of volunteers who know a thing or two about design and build.

"Well, if we can put an airplane in the sky we can build a ramp," said Robley Evans, Chairman of the Machinists Volunteer Program.

Evans brought with him three fellow machinists from IAM District 751 -- guys who don't just build planes. On Friday, they were rebuilding a life. Wheelchair ramps are in their wheel house.

"We heard about a wheelchair being stolen and a lot of us were like, 'well, we build them,'" Evans said.

IAM District 751 has built 335 of them since the program started in 1997.

The materials for Owens' project were re-gifted.

"I think this was scavenged from a previous ramp," said George Braun, a volunteer and retired Boeing machinist. "Unfortunately, they passed before they could use it so the family donated it back to us."

It isn't an easy process. Ramps have to be just right: the right angle, the right fit, the right ride. And unlike a 747, it is designed to stay grounded. Volunteers bolted the ramp to the ground.

Police think Owens' original aluminum ramp was stolen to be resold for a few bucks at a scrap yard.

Despite all that he has lost, Owens knows what he's found is priceless.

"I tried to be of assistance to the world and make an impact in the world. And the world has impacted me,” said Owens.

Learn more about IAM District 751's volunteer projects in the community

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