Charlotte paralympian asking for help to find stolen running prosthetics

Disabled runner has running blades stolen

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Paul Peterson's life revolves around track and field. But the world-class single amputee sprinter needs help getting back on the track. Someone broke into Peterson's apartment in Charlotte Wednesday afternoon, and stole his running prosthetics.

"They're really valuable to me because I can't train or compete without them," Peterson told WBTV.

Peterson lost his right leg in 2007 after a motorcycle accident broke his leg and severed several arteries. After he adjusted to being an amputee, Peterson started running. He turned out to be really good.

"Running is right now how I make my living," the paralympian said. "I've been competing professionally almost for 3 years."

He competes in the single amputee 100 meters, 200 meters, 4X100 relay, and long run. Each race needs a different running prosthetics.

Wednesday afternoon someone stole all the 'running blades' Peterson had in his apartment.

He said when he opened the door to the apartment he shares with two other people, he noticed their TV's and XBox were gone.

"When I realized all the stuff was missing, I went to see if my book bag was there with all the medals inside of it," he said. "That wasn't there. That was gone."

Some of his sneakers, USA team gear, and the running blades were also stolen.

"I was shocked," Peterson said. "Because everything that was so important they took. They didn't take everything. They just took some stuff. They didn't take all my shoes. They took some shoes. But took all my legs. I don't get it. They won't be able to wear it - the legs."

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police say "no one has been charged in the case." Investigators are asking anyone with information to call Crimestoppers.

Peterson and his prosthetist, Clay Claiborne are asking people to keep an eye out for the blades.

Claiborne, who is a certified Prosthetist Orthotist, said each foot - made out of several layers of carbon fiber - costs between $4,000  and $6,000.

Thieves stole three.

Claiborne said it doesn't make sense that someone stole them. They're made specifically for Peterson. No one else would fit them.

"This is a person's foot that is based on alignment, shape of it, weight of him. It's just a very unique item," Peterson said.

Staff at the lab at Claiborne Prosthetics and Orthotics are now working to get a running prosthetic ready with the only remaining 'foot' they have for Peterson. He's scheduled to run in the national championships in three weeks in Minnesota.

Peterson said he was angry Wednesday afternoon when he discovered what happened. Now, he just wants his items back.

"I don't get why they want to take something like that," he said. "Somebody's hard earned medals. Championship medals and stuff like that. Prosthetic legs are really hard to get."

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