Baze's Challenge: Wheelchair theft victim inspiring others - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Baze's Challenge: Wheelchair theft victim inspiring others

Posted: Updated:

When Randy Lee read on our website about Baze Mitchell's stolen wheelchair, he wanted to reach out.

"I sensed he didn't have a wheelchair. So as a small business owner, I thought maybe I could buy one," Lee said.

Lee owns Magnolia Mattress on West Broad. He was one of dozens of people who contacted WALB wanting to help Mitchell get a new chair to replace the one that was stolen last month.

To Baze, the response was overwhelming.

"It's just motivating to me and it shows there are a lot of good people here," said Mitchell.

Last month, someone swiped his specially fitted wheel chair off his porch. The Darton College student, who has cerebral palsy, walks on crutches but uses the chair to get around campus.

Despite the graciousness of others, insurance will cover a replacement chair estimated at $3,000.

But the story doesn't end there.

Instead of money going to him, Mitchell wants to see the money others wanted to donate go instead into the community.

"Stop the Violence and Thrive to Strive. Because I believe if you teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime. If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for day," Mitchell said.

So instead of cutting a check for a chair. Randy Lee invested in Baze's Challenge. He donated money to Albany's Stop the Violence campaign.

"When I heard what he was supporting, Dorothy Hubbard's efforts to clean up downtown, that's something I've been doing anyway because we just located down here and I'm a big supporter of that," Lee said.

He added the mayors effort to cleanup the downtown area motivated him to relocate his business to West Broad.

Mayor Hubbard's goal of cleaning up downtown got a boost thanks to Baze. She came to Magnolia Mattress to meet with Baze and accept a check in his name from Lee for $150 dollars made out to Stop the Violence.

"Follow in their footsteps," she said. "When things happen to you, you don't just lay down, you keep on trying. And that's what we're doing here today. We're just going to keep on trying. And we're encouraging others to do the same thing," said Hubbard.

With headlines of the recent fights that disrupted the downtown Albany fireworks display and the criminal element in general, she admits it will take a village to clean up the town. But this is a good start.

Money donated to Stop the Violence will help in the organization push to inform citizens of how to protect themselves against crime and organize neighborhood watch programs.

Instead of being the victim - Baze became an advocate - an inspiration in how one's misfortune can benefit a greater good.

"I would hope that people really do believe what I believe that we can make a difference. And it is possible," said Mitchell.

If you would like to donate to Baze's Challenge to make the city a cleaner and safer place, you can contact the City of Albany and make a donation to Strive to Thrive or Stop the Violence.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.