COCONUT GROVE, Fla. – A South Florida nonprofit organization that offers rehabilitation and educational programs with the help of universally accessible boats was targeted by vandals last weekend.
Shake-A-Leg Miami isn't letting the incident set them back.They're still taking children out on the water while they try to figure out how to replace the safety boats.
Volunteers said eight inflatable boats were vandalized, five of which are used to keep an eye on groups of kids when they are out on the water.
Volunteers said someone took a knife to the boats over the weekend and also set their eyes on a 1940s wooden powerboat that one of the volunteers uses to teach Shake-A-Leg kids.
"That's not just scratching up a boat. That was assaulting. It was devastating and it broke out back," Craig Kirk, of the Shake-A-Leg Foundation, said.
In the meantime, the organization is taking kids and their families on larger boats, which is adding to their costs as the bigger boats use 10 times the amount of gas as the smaller ones.
The damage is estimated to be more than $15,000.
"When you look at what's happened here, they've taken away a safety valve for the kids," volunteer David Loeffler said. "One of the foundations of Shake-A-Leg for helping people with challenges is to get on the water and show them things they didn't think they could possibly do, but you need to have safety everywhere."
It hasn't been an easy couple of months for Shake-A-Leg. Hurricane Irma wiped out a specially designed boat ramp at Dinner Key Marina last year and also damaged several of their boats.
The last time Local 10 caught up with the organization, they had raised $50,000, allowing them to continue to take disadvantaged kids and their families out to sea.
"We're not canceling any of the children water activities. They don't even know that it's occurred," Kirk said.
The folks at Shake-A-Leg said they don't know why someone would go after them. Surveillance cameras they previously had were damaged by Irma and they haven't had the money to replace them.
Click here to help the Shake-A-Leg Foundation pay to repair the damaged boats.