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Massillon community coming together after someone stole 7-year-old’s wheelchair ramp

Posted at 7:36 AM, Apr 12, 2022

MASSILLON, Ohio — Seven-year-old Blaine Cottrill is a happy-go-lucky kid. He loves the simple things, like greeting people and hugs.

“He is very loving, very kind. We could be in the middle of Walmart and he’s trying to high-five and hug every person we walk past,” said Gabrielle Cottrill, Blaine’s mom.

But it’s also the seemingly simple things that can be challenging for the Cottrill family. Blaine has cerebral palsy and genetic disorders.

“He has a genetic mutation that only 1 in 23 kids have in the whole world. We are the only ones in the United States with our genetic mutation. We got his wheelchair when he was 3,” she said.

Through insurance, the Cottrills received a ramp about two years ago to help get Blaine in and out of their Massillon home and without the ramp, it is a much harder process.

“My husband and I pick him up to carry him up the steps, but my husband is a semi-driver, so nine times out of 10 it is just me,” said Cottrill.

The ramp folds up and isn’t attached to the cinderblock steps of the front porch.

“We’d open it up, lift him in, and then when we were done we’d close it back up. We didn’t see to make it a permanent fixture because nobody ever thought someone would steal a wheelchair ramp,” she said.

But Saturday morning, the ramp was gone. Cottrill said she was shocked.

“I was heartbroken at the fact that someone would take from a child, even if you didn’t know he was a child, it’s still someone who is handicapped and that breaks my heart,” she said.

She filed a police report and then took to Facebook to share what had happened. Her friend Libby Ginther read that post.

“My heart sank. I didn’t know how someone could stoop so low to do something like that. It was just devastating,” said Ginther.

Ginther’s anger quickly turned to action.

“There’s no way we were going to let it slide,” said Ginther.

She started a GoFundMe page for Blaine.

In just 2 hours, she exceeded the goal of the $1,600 needed for a new ramp.

“I told Gabbie, ‘Hey, we exceed the goal amount. What can we do for your family?’ People were asking what their favorite restaurants were, favorite stores, gift cards,” she said. “Gabbie said, ‘Oh, no way. What can we do to pay it forward?'"

Ginther said she knew just the kid who could benefit from some extra funds: Camren Offenburg, a 12-year-old boy who also has cerebral palsy.

“He’s had eye surgeries, he’s had major back surgeries done. Now he is about to get his other surgery on the right side, to turn his leg back in and fix his hand,” said Camren’s mom, Ashley Skelton.

Camren is in a wheelchair basketball league, and Ginther’s son volunteers with the team. Recently, they raised enough money to get Camren a new treadmill so he could use it to grow stronger after his surgery.

“We constantly have him get on the treadmill because it helps with his steps, helps with his walking distance, it keeps him going, it keeps the blood flowing,” said Skelton.

The extra money from Blaine’s fundraiser is going to go towards a railing for Camren’s treadmill to give him more stability. Ginther said they’re looking for someone to build one specifically fit for Camren, who said he is thankful for the generosity.

“I’m so grateful. I want to shout out to the whole community,” he said.

And the moral of the story: the good in the world far outweighs the bad.

“Here in Massillon, we are going to stand together and stand up for these kids who can’t necessarily do it on their own,” said Ginther.