OSSINING, N.Y. -- A 12-year-old girl from Westchester County is showing remarkable courage in the face of an infuriating crime after someone stole her high-tech wheelchair that helps her get around.
"I have acute flaccid myelitis," said Aliyah Rivera. "It's an inflammation in the spinal cord."
In her 12 years of experience, Aliyah has experienced multiple surgeries and temporary paralysis, always with a positive spirit.
"She's very independent and strong. So it's honestly very difficult having to see her not be able to go to school and do things she loves, because she depended on that wheelchair to do everything," said Aliyah's sister, Shaniah Rivera.
Surveillance video captured the incident last week.
One morning, man in a maroon van drove up to the family's home. He walked over to Aliyah's high-tech electric wheelchair that was placed outside a few minutes before her school bus arrived. The man loaded it into his vehicle and drove off.
He also took the middle schooler's backpack with her laptop and folders.
"It mostly just hurts me in the heart because he saw the backpack. He looked in the backpack and saw that it was school supplies. So obviously he knew it was a little girl's wheelchair," said Aliyah.
"I get everyone has their own problems and maybe he did need it or maybe he wanted to sell it. But it's definitely wrong that he thought it was OK to take that from my little sister," said Shaniah.
While Ossining police investigate the theft, a family friend created a GoFundMe to help buy Aliyah a replacement wheelchair.
"I feel like more of a survivor. I really pushed through it and was able to get where I am today," said Aliyah.
It's another challenge for a young woman who has already faced many.
Aliyah got the electric wheelchair last year and said it greatly improved her quality of life. It's worth several thousand dollars.
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