A huge loss happened just days before Memorial Day Weekend for a Temecula non-profit that provides therapy for disabled veterans.
A Polaris XP 1000 was stolen from an organization called, Warfighter Made. The organization builds RZRs for veterans’ special needs. The RZRs provide adrenaline therapy for the veterans, even if they have never ridden in one before, they have found, once they can sit inside one, and use the customized controls, per their disability, they love the RZR’s rush.
“The adrenaline therapy helps to quiet all that PTSD and things they suffer from, they've found something that allows them to get out and have freedom,” explained Warfighter Made’s Director of Operations, Lindsey Gougherty.
“Our vehicles have been customized for veterans who have been catastrophically wounded,” said Gougherty, who is also a U.S. Marine veteran.
She spent most of 2001 to 2004 overseas helping to deploy troops. She understands why veterans need help when they return from overseas.
Gougherty said each RZR costs over $20,000.
“Each one is a tribute to a different era, and this one here is a tribute to a Vietnam Era, the one that was stolen was Desert Storm.”
Veterans and volunteers were customizing RZRs and other recreational vehicles inside their garage. Volunteer, Andrew McKenzie, whose wife is on active duty on the Navy base in Coronado, was working on a RZR for a double amputee veteran. To make some room inside the garage to work on the RZR, they moved Desert Storm outside.
“All of a sudden, they heard that engine turn, and because we constantly move vehicles, keys get left in, and the crime of opportunity definitely got us that day,” said Gougherty.
“We run out there, and we jumped in cars and tried to look for it, but it was gone,” said McKenzie.
They know how special these recreational vehicles are to their veterans.
“We had a marine single-leg amputee who was driving that vehicle, she has memories with a vehicle that is no longer here,” said Gougherty.
They already have reports of Desert Storm spotted nearby in the wash just a couple minutes away from the garage.
With it being Memorial Day weekend, they hope whoever took it, will remember veterans' sacrifices, and how they got their freedom.