Leslie Stoneham said she isn’t surprised by White Rock and South Surrey’s reaction to her daughter Keirra’s plight – just “in awe” of it.
Two weeks ago, someone stole the Special Olympian’s customized bowling gear – past Christmas and birthday presents – from the family’s White Rock carport.
The theft threatened to spoil the game of Keirra, 26, who was all set to compete in 10-pin bowling for Team B.C. in this month’s Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games in Vancouver – an honour she’d qualified for by earning gold at last year’s provincials.
Leslie said the loss of two customized bowling balls, a tote bag and shoes had begun to sink in with Keirra, who receives programs and support for developmental difficulties from Semiahmoo House.
“There were quite a few tears,” she said.
All of that changed June 28, following a lemonade-stand fundraiser outside Thrifty Foods in Morgan Crossing, organized by family friend David Thiele at the urging of his daughter, Charlotte George.
Contributions from local businesses, friends and complete strangers raised more than $900 – more than enough to replace all of the gear stolen, including a new tote bag identical to the one stolen and new personalized shoes even better than Kierra’s original ones.
“The rest of the money will be donated by Keirra to Special Olympics BC to help other athletes compete in future,” Thiele said.
Among major contributors were Sandcastle Lanes, which donated two brand new bowling balls, specially drilled to match Keirra’s grip; Thrifty Foods, which donated the tent and lemonade for the event; and Morgan Crossing, which donated the space – but many more made a difference by pitching in, Leslie said.
“Complete strangers were throwing down $20 bills for lemonade,” she marvelled.
“Now she’s the happiest young lady. She’s well taken care of – she’s pretty loved.”
Ever since the story appeared in the Peace Arch News on June 26 the reaction was “absolutely huge,” Leslie said, adding that Keirra also received immense support through Facebook postings.
“There are more good people out there than bad people,” she said. “The outpouring of love and concern was just overwhelming.”