US Paralympic track athlete Erik Hightower breaks American record and has his racing wheelchair stolen the following day. - WTNZ FOX 43 Knoxville, TN

US Paralympic track athlete Erik Hightower breaks American record and has his racing wheelchair stolen the following day.

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SOURCE National Athletic Institute

CINCINNATI, July 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- June 28th, 2014 proved to be the beginning of a whirlwind 24 hours for US Paralympian Erik Hightower. That morning he competed at the Indy International in Indianapolis in the 100m T54 category of wheelchair racing beating the American record and earning first place with a time of 14.21. Shortly after his win, he also won the 400m and set a personal record of 48.96. The following day, a family member offered to transport his racing wheelchair in the back of his Ford F-150 truck with a camper top and lock.  When they stopped to visit a patient at the Mercy hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, someone broke into the back of the truck and stole Erik's $3,000 racing wheelchair.

Born with Spina Bifida, Erik has been wheelchair racing since he was 8 years old and represented the US in the 2008 Paralympic games held in Beijing, China. Four years later, he failed to qualify for the London Paralympics by one position and since has been training harder than ever to represent the US in Rio for the 2016 Paralympics. He currently trains at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California and is coached by Joaquim Cruz.

Erik is represented by National Athletic Institute (NAI), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit charitable organization established to raise funds to cover essential needs for US Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls. Donations to help cover the costs for Erik's replacement wheelchair can be made at 100% of all donations go towards US athlete support.

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Contact: Mari Heimuli, 1-801-836-5582,

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