A birthday trip to Disneyland for a girl with cerebral palsy is now in jeopardy because someone stole the family van carrying oxygen tanks and other important equipment in Wilmington, the family said Wednesday.
The girl's family was pleading with the public for the equipment to be returned after it was taken from right in front of the family's Los Angeles home. Cristina Shaw depends on her oxygen tanks, suctioning equipment, wheelchair and special car seat — all of which were stolen along with the van.
Family members believe it was taken sometime late Sunday night.
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Cristina loves princesses and her father said nothing gets her more excited than her annual weeklong trip to Disneyland. She was supposed to leave Thursday to celebrate turning 8 years old.
"When she sees the princesses she totally responds and reacts," Jim Shaw said. "You can just see the joy on her face."
Cristina needs the extra tanks for any extended trip outside the family's home in Wilmington. Because of brain damage suffered during her birth, Cristina needs around-the-clock care. Her family and caregivers make sure she has a constant supply of oxygen.
"We've just been crying a lot and really helpless," said the girl's aunt, Angelina Contreras.
The stolen van is a 2011 White Toyota Sienna with license plate 6SBLB92.
The family says their insurance would cover the van but not the $60,000 worth of equipment inside.
"I was hoping somebody would say, 'I did this, I feel bad. I left it at such-and-such place,'" Contreras said.
The family has put up a GoFundMe page to replace the equipment. But they would rather just see everything returned and for whoever stole everything to realize how much this trip means to their little girl.
"It's hard to communicate with her but she does blink 'yes' or 'no' and when we tell her we're going to Disneyland she doesn't stop blinking," her father said.
Cristina's dad has to make the call whether he can still make a Disneyland trip work with a rented van and multiple trips to El Segundo to refill the three oxygen tanks he has left.
If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe account set up to help Cristina's family, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 7.9 percent of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges.