The vandals wiped out transportation to United Cerebral Palsy of Central California (UCP) sometime overnight or early this morning. As a result, nearly half of it's students were forced to stay home.
UCP relies heavily on donations from the public to provide programs and services to disabled students, so when vandals slashed the tires of four vehicles used to transport them, they cut into much-needed funds that directly impact adults and children with special needs.
Everyday about 120 disabled students are dropped off at the United Cerebral Palsy of Central California's Arts and Technology Center. "For many of them, they create artwork that is then marketed, and when those items sell, they get a commission. So it's income and many of our students have not had a paycheck in their lives until they produce something and it gets sold. That's a big deal," said UCP Executive Director Jeffrey Snyder.
On Thursday morning it was a very different picture. That's because vandals slashed the tires on a fleet of vehicles, taking out two, 16 pass anger busses, a van and a car -- all used to pick up patients and take them to the center.
"The school is pretty empty and quiet. Usually there's a lot of laughter and cheerfulness going on," said UCP Coordinator Susan Stenberg-Wilson.
"Here we try to do some wonderful things in the community and to have some heartless person come along and take that away from somebody who has many more needs they could ever imagine, its just very disheartening," said Snyder, "It's frustrating, its maddening, you know. For us it's a financial loss. We don't have money in the budget for 8 new tires today. More importantly though, it's a loss of program services."
Michael Taylor was one of just a few students able to find another ride to the campus. "I was shocked and appalled. And why is that? Cause why did they do such a thing?"
He said he misses his classmates and participating together in their favorite activities. "Singing, dancing, making art."
The cash-strapped center estimates damage to be in the thousands of dollars. It's now pleading to the public to help them cover the costs of tires, towing and the loss of programs.
"I think somewhere around 2,500-3,000 dollars today. That's not in my budget. My budget goes to provide services, because the folks who come to us don't pay for their services. We get about 70% of our funding from the State of California. The other 30% we have to fundraiser so we count on donors here in the community," said Snyder.
UCP is now racing to replace the tires on it's vehicles so it isn't affected again tomorrow. If you'd like to donate, you can call the center at (559) 221-8272, or click here