COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. — Roughly $40,000 in equipment, cameras and prosthetic limbs was stolen on Tuesday night from the headquarters of Adaptive Action Sports, a nonprofit for adaptive snowboarders and other athletes located in Center Village at Copper Mountain, according to officials with the organization.
Authorities have not identified a suspect as of Thursday afternoon and all equipment is still missing. The Summit County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident as a suspected burglary. Among the items stolen were two prosthetic legs, each valued at about $15,000, stored in a snowboard bag belonging to guest athlete Brett Botelho of Palmdale, California.
Daniel Gale, co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports with his wife, Paralympic medalist and “Dancing with the Stars” finalist Amy Purdy, came to the office on Wednesday morning and found the door still locked. There were no signs of forced entry, he said. When he entered the space, retail clothing and items from his desk were strewn about the office, including blank checks and a cash deposit bag containing $100. Missing from the office were camcorders, GoPro cameras, a DSLR camera and Botelho’s bag, along with random retail items.
“We almost want to tell whoever did it: ‘Just drop the legs off at the door, no questions asked,’” Gale said. “We don’t care about the other stuff — that’s the most important. Everything else I feel is replaceable.”
On Tuesday morning, 28-year-old Botelho arrived in Summit County with a snowboard bag containing his snowboard, bindings, boots, helmet, goggles, outerwear and prosthetic limbs. He left the bag at the Adaptive Action Sports offices, where it was stored with several other bags behind locked doors. Gale confirmed that the offices were locked with one of his coaches on Tuesday afternoon.
“We know for sure the place was all locked up,” Gale said. “When I came in yesterday morning, I had to use my key to get in, which is an odd thing. It was an absolute mess in there.”
By Thursday morning, Botelho had flown back to California from Colorado to recover from an acute case of altitude sickness. He was at St. Anthony’s Summit Medical Center on Wednesday morning when he called Gale to pick up his snowboard bag. Gale then returned his call with news of the suspected robbery.
“It was a hell of a day for me,” said Botelho, who lived in Summit County to train with Adaptive Action Sports last season, but moved back to California this season for budget reasons. “That is all stuff I’ve accumulated over the past four seasons. Everything I pretty much own for the snow was in there.”
For now, Botelho has just one prosthetic leg made for walking. Without the two stolen limbs — one for water sports, one for snowboarding, both custom-made by a manufacturer in Florida — his snowboarding season is finished. This was his first trip to Adaptive Action Sports this winter, and he had two or three more planned before the end of the season.
“It sucks that the other stuff is gone, but I just want my legs back,” said Botelho, who spends about a week per trip snowboarding and training in Copper. “I was so stoked when I got those (limbs) this summer to do the things that I’ve longed to do for over 15 years. If you just drop those legs off on the front door, that’s fine. The other things can be replaced, but those can’t be replaced. It’s only February and there is a lot of season left, and I want to snowboard. Right now I can’t.”
Benefit for Brett
To recoup the cost of missing equipment and prosthetic limbs valued at $40,000, Adaptive Action Sports co-founders Daniel Gale and Amy Purdy have launched a fundraising campaign through the nonprofit website.
“Certainly we’re doing everything we can at Adaptive Action Sports, looking into our renter’s insurance to cover loses there,” Gale said. “But I think it will be important to do fundraising activities locally.”
To donate, visit the Adaptive Action Sports website at adacs.org and click on the “Donate” homepage button.