The founder of a centre at the University of Alberta that is dedicated to athletes with disabilities hopes that whoever stole a number of medals and awards from the facility will have a change of heart and return them.
Bob Steadward told Global News on Friday that a number of items were stolen from the Steadward Centre last week. They included complete set of medals from the Sydney Olympics and Paralympic Games, an International Paralympic Order medal and an International Olympic Membership medal.
“They are priceless to begin with because of the sentimental reasons that they mean to me but also because it represents a whole large part of our population of people with disabilities,” Steadward said. “Those awards were recognizing those people’s achievements. This is a real shame.”
Steadward said the awards were given to him personally and were on display at the centre in order for people to reflect on the Steadward Centre’s role in helping athletes accomplish their goals.
He said the display had been up for just a few months.
“I took a great deep breath and a sigh,” Steadward said as he described what happened when he was made aware of the theft. “You had an empty feeling. It just made me sad because you can’t replace them.”
Steadward told Global News surveillance video wasn’t in place at the time of the theft because of recent renovations but that the display cases were locked. He said he hopes the person who took the medals will return them, no questions asked.
“It doesn’t just make you mad or upset, it just makes you sad to say, ‘Why would someone break into a cabinet to steal medals that have no values to sell?’”
The Steadward Centre is an important hub for disability sports in Canada.
Bob Steadward has been a key international figure in the world of disability sports. In 1989, he was elected as the founding president of the International Paralympic Committee.
At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Steadward signed a formal memorandum of understanding with the president of the International Olympic Committee that brought their two movements together. (KLM, with files from Global News)