PHOENIX — Peoria police investigator Bill Weigt has been confined to a wheelchair ever since he was shot while chasing a homicide suspect in December 2005. A single bullet lodged into his chest, paralyzing him from the chest down.
"Bullet proof vest was on and everything was the way it was supposed to be, it was that one in a million shot, that lucky shot I guess that took my legs," Weigt said, "But obviously it didn't take my life."
And it definitely did not take his optimism, which is why Liz and Brad Soden wanted to help.
They know what it's like to suddenly have a major injury change everything. Liz was paralyzed in a car crash back in 1999.
The couple started the Liz Soden Foundation in January 2011 to provide injured police officers, firefighters, soldiers and children state-of-the-art mobility wheelchairs that they could not otherwise afford. They decided Weigt would be one of their recipients.
"Bill was perfect, because he goes out and is a great role model, he talks to kids, he's a real personable guy, so we wanted to give him something that commanded attention that he could use every day," Brad said.
So he designed a one-of-a-kind "Cop Chair," complete with flashing lights, a siren and a computer. It cost $35,000 to make.
"It's a cop car; we just kind of tweaked it a little bit," he said
Weigt knew the chair was in the works, but did not know exactly what was in store for him until the chair was revealed to him in front of dozens of family members, friends and co-workers at a special celebration at Santisi Brothers Pizzeria and Sports grill Thursday night.
"It's really something special when you give away one of these chairs and somebody's face just absolutely lights up and it changes their lives," Brad said.
Weight said the chair would definitely make every-day things easier for him, like getting to a nearby grocery store without the hassle of getting in and out of his van.
"It's amazing. Words can't even describe it," Weigt said. "It still blows me away that it's been so long and people still want to do nice things, which is amazing."
Reprinted with permission from KVUE