Thieves will steal anything.
Any doubt of that — ask Gaby Carmona. Someone stole her arm.
They broke into her minivan and took a myoelectric prosthetic arm that cost about $120,000.
Nice arm. But it was designed for her. Made for her. Only her. It’s not like a thief is going to sell it out of the back of his car, pawn it or know someone who can use it.
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The thief, or thieves, may have gotten more dough from the orange tub of Girl Scout supplies they also took that night last month.
Carmona, 29, a Kansas City, North, mother of five who works four part-time jobs, sometimes 16 hours a day, and volunteers at her church, knows she shouldn’t have left the arm in her car. But sometimes after a long day of work, when she’s tired, she removes the prosthetic arm for the drive home.
“Then when I got there I just wanted to go in, eat dinner and go to bed,” she said. “I truly feel like someone has stolen a part of me.”
“I know it’s my fault. I guess I just wanted people to be good.”
Now she’s short an arm. She’s reminded of that first thing every morning when she goes to tie her shoes.
The bullies are back, too. The people who said mean things to Carmona when she was a little girl in Mexico about not having a left arm. Now, on social media, she and her kids are hearing how dumb she was to leave the arm in her car, or how she’s running a scam to get money.
Rick Behrens, pastor at Grandview Park Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Kan., where Gaby and her family attend, has heard about the nasty comments.
“I won’t look at that,” he said. “People get stupid. It’s sad.”
He’s known Gaby and her family for four years. Her husband, Jesus Javier Ramirez, does remodeling work. The children are ages 4, 7, 9, 10 and 12. The whole bunch shows up every Sunday and almost every time the church needs help or has an activity.
“Gaby is always looking for another way to serve,” Behrens said. “She has so much energy. I would never call her handicapped because she does so much around here.
“She helps with the youth ministry. She and Javier cook meals for the church. They have these beautiful, sweet kids. She’s amazing and she never stops.”
She works in after-school care and at a domestic violence shelter, and she serves as a courtroom translator for Spanish-speaking defendants. In 2013, Carmona faced down a group of neo-Nazis holding a rally in downtown Kansas City.
This Saturday, the church, at 1613 Wilson Blvd., will hold a fundraiser dinner and carnival to raise money to help get a replacement arm for Carmona.
She also has a GoFundMe account that has come up with about $1,800 so far.
According to a Kansas City police incident report, Carmona called police about 6:50 a.m. on Sept. 20. She told officers that as soon as she realized the arm was not in her home, she ran outside of her house in the 4400 block of North Indiana Avenue and found the sliding door open on her minivan.
“Carmona stated that the listed stolen prosthetic arm was wrapped in a tan sweater,” the report said.
On Wednesday, Carmona said: “I have no hopes they will ever find it.”
She was born without a left arm because of a congenital trait. She got her first prosthetic limb when she was 8 and used “passive” limbs until last year when she got the myoelectric arm, which allows her own muscles to control the artificial hand.
She was able to get the high-tech limb because she had health insurance through a full-time job that no longer exists.
She contacted the arm’s manufacturer, Bebionic, who put her in touch with an Overland Park company called Advanced Arm Dynamics.
On Thursday, Julian Wells, the clinical manager for Advanced Arm, said the company can’t ante up for a replacement myoelectric arm, but it could help with time, fitting, components and occupational therapy for Carmona.
Wells has talked with Carmona.
“When I heard her story, about how how losing her arm was like losing a part of herself, that tugged at my heartstrings,” Wells said. “She works all these jobs, doing good things, and she’s doing everything she can to help herself. That’s very important.
“That makes us want to help her.”
At this point, Carmona is hoping for a new arm like she had, but knows she may have to settle for a “passive” replacement.
She says she can cope with doing routine household tasks.
“The hard part is the emotional,” she said at the 8th Street Family YMCA, where she works.
Wednesday was her first day back since the theft last month. She lowered her head to say why.
“I didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh, poor woman. She’s missing an arm.’ ”
A co-worker, Christopher Hill, shook his head at those words.
“Anything she can’t do, I do for her,” Hill said. “We love Gaby around here.”
Donald Bradley: 816-234-4182
Gaby Carmona on GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/2qdhf9g
Grandview Park Presbyterian Church: 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, 1613 Wilson Ave., Kansas City, Kan.