CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Oct. 22, 2019) – Over the weekend, the theft of two vehicles, a 2018 Ford Explorer and 2018 Jeep Wrangler, took place at the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer’s new Education Advancement Center located at 1601 South Holtzclaw Avenue. Chattanooga police are working to recover the stolen vehicles. Anyone with information regarding the location of these vehicles should call the Chattanooga Police Department at (423) 698-2525.
The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer’s mission is to erase the effects of childhood cancer and improve each child and family member’s quality of life. All services are offered at no cost to patients and families for their entire lifetime. The foundation is an official Proud Charity of the International Motorsports Association (IMSA).
The 2018 Ford Explorer Sport and 2018 Jeep Wrangler were built and outfitted by pediatric cancer patients and their families as part of the foundation’s industrial arts therapy division. This program, offered at no cost to participants, gives children a chance to perform occupational therapy in a fun, educational environment. Other benefits include learning new life skills, team building, improved concentration and coordination, and more.
In addition to being used by childhood cancer patients and survivors as part of therapy and recovery, both vehicles were to be auctioned in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Leake Auto Auction in January 2020. The foundation’s previous automotive build project, a 2017 HURST Jeepster Commando, raised $225,000 when it was sold at auction earlier this year. As it is unlikely these vehicles will be recovered and in the condition to auction, the foundation will not be able to raise the funds that would have come from selling these vehicles.
While the vehicles are insured, the foundation will only receive compensation for the base cost of the vehicles. No compensation will be provided for the parts installed by pediatric cancer patients to upfit the vehicle and also aid in their recovery from the side-effects of cancer treatment. To help recover the potential funds that the vehicles would’ve raised at auctions, the foundation has created a Go Fund Me campaign. To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-us-recover-funds-lost-when-cars-were-stolen.
“We are completely devastated by this horrible theft,” said Austin Hatcher Foundation President Amy Jo Osborn. “These cars had a lot of hard work and love put into them by our patients, and we’re heartbroken to see the wreckage left behind by whoever stole these vehicles. They obviously damaged the vehicles and left a trail of destroyed parts behind. Even if the police find the vehicles, we probably won’t be able to use them as fundraisers as we’d planned. This is truly a huge loss.”