Cicero Officials and Donors Rally to Help Handicapped Victim of Van Theft

When a family’s specially equipped van used to transport its 9-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy was stolen in February, Cicero police and the community sprang into action.

On Feb. 6, thieves stole the wheelchair accessible 2000 green Dodge Grand Caravan originally donated to the family by the Make-a-Wish Foundation last year. Police recovered the vehicle and thanks to the generosity of many donors and a Cicero repair shop, town officials recently presented the overhauled van to the little girl’s mother, Vanessa Serman.

On Wednesday, the overhauled van was presented to Vanessa Serman, the mother of a 9-year-old daughter suffering from cerebral palsy.

“I want to thank the officials of the Town of Cicero for recovering the stolen van and for having it repaired so my daughter can use it,” Serman said. “The repairs were very expensive and we could not have done them without the help of donors and the repair shop.”

Town President Larry Dominick said he was proud of the work of the Cicero Police Department for recovering the van and the many volunteers and donors who “stepped up to help someone in our community. I was very proud to help also to restore the van so that it can be used to transport the family’s young daughter.”

Town Assessor Emo Cundari said the town received $2,000 in cash donations, which covered a portion of van’s the repairs.

“We want to thank the owners of Chiquis Car Care & Collision Center, 5841 W. Ogden Avenue, for completing all the repairs and donating the balance,” Cundari said.

“The owners of Chiquis also made the van’s repairs a priority so they could be done quickly. The van was the only means of transporting the young girl to the doctor and to rehabilitation.”

Juan Ocampos, co-owner of Chiquis Care Care, said the van had both structural and engine damage, as well as damage to the vehicle ignition and to the automatic wheelchair extension ramp on the side of the van.

“The total costs of the repairs were about $3,600,” Ocampos said. “The vehicle was severely damaged but we are happy that we could complete all of the repairs for such a worthy family.”

Police Supt. Jerry Chlada Jr., said he was proud of the work his detectives did in tracking down and recovering the stolen van and their ongoing investigation to identify the suspects.

In addition to the significant donation by Chiquis, Cundari said he also donated along with the Friends of Larry Dominick Committee, Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, the Del Galdo Law Group, Odelson & Sterk, contractor Robert R. Andreas & Sons, and regular citizens John Simpson, and Jeff White.