INVERNESS, Fla. (FOX 13) - After years of helping kids with cancer, a local nonprofit now needs help of its own after thieves stole the trailer that houses their organization.
The group, Hannah's Art From the Heart, was inspired by Hannah Douglas. The young girl bravely battled her cancer diagnosis for the majority of her young life. But just months before her eighth birthday, her family was forced to say goodbye.
"She just had a zest for life that was very inspiring and caught on to a lot of people. She affected anyone she met," said Michael Douglas, Hannah's father. "She was a vibrant, vivacious young girl, the toughest girl I ever knew."
But through that devastation came something beautiful as the Hannah's Art From the Heart organization was born.
"My friend, Stacy Griffin, she's a school teacher and her son, Trevor, and Hannah were about the same age," said Douglas. "She came up with the idea of having kids make artwork, and then we would sell that artwork and donate all the proceeds to PCF."
The nonprofit started small but quickly grew. Hannah's Art From the Heart was able to raise over $17,000 for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation in Tampa.
"We have had thousands of pieces of art donated over the past 8 years and have raised over $17,000 for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The children and art teachers of Citrus County have really rallied behind this cause," said Stacy Griffin, the third grade teacher at Rock Crusher Elementary who started the organization.
However, now their fund raising efforts are on hold. Griffin took to Facebook over the weekend pleading for the public's help after the trailer that houses the whole nonprofit organization was stolen from her backyard.
"It wasn't just the trailer," said Douglas. "It was the artwork we were going to use for our next show. It's the tables, it's the banners, the tent, the walls. It's all of the stuff that we use."
The trailer can be replaced, but the artwork that was donated by school kids all across Citrus County is priceless.
"This trailer had a lot of donated artwork, artwork the kids thought would go to help kids with cancer. It’s really invaluable because of all that it means to us," said Griffin.
Douglas is still hopeful the thieves might have a change of heart.
"Our hope is that someone looks inside, whoever took it, and is struck by some conscience to do the right thing," Douglas said.
The theft is a setback, yet Douglas and Griffin said it will take much more to keep them from using Hannah's story to make a difference.
"They may have taken the trailer," Douglas said. "But they can't take her legacy."
The theft has been reported to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, and they confirmed to FOX 13 that they are investigating.
The trailer is white with a Florida tag of 9504UP.
If you have any information, you're asked to contact CCSO through their non-emergency line at 352-726-1121.