I hope you wake up tomorrow deaf, blind and dumb if you had anything to do with this...
Butterfly Girl, a bronze statue in the Children's Garden at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, has been stolen.
"It's very disheartening. These kids don't have access to another barrier-free sanctuary like this," said Todd Reeves, executive director and superintendent at the more than century-old school.
The theft, described by school officials as coldhearted vandalism, was part of the damage discovered at the $720,000 garden around 7:30 a.m. yesterday when staff began arriving for work.
A similar statue of a boy was found toppled, face down, in the herb and flower garden. An arch sculpture of fruits and vegetables, with a giant fork protruding near the top, was broken in half, the broken section lying on the ground.
The Children's Garden, though aesthetically attractive, was equally important as an outdoor classroom and recreation space for the 175 blind students ages 3 to 21 who attend the North Oakland campus.
The arch, sculpted by Pittsburgh artist Robert Qualters, was one of several attractions in the garden that students could use to enhance their sensory awareness.
On a sunny, warm day like yesterday, many of the students would have been escorted to the garden to play, to touch and feel the sculptures and experience the sun and open air in a safe environment.
"The students would have been out ... on a day like this, but not with all of this mess," said Jillian Pritts, a spokeswoman at the school.
The broken and toppled artwork lay in place until police could investigate.
A resident in the area reported that building sensor alarms sounded around 2 a.m., and a possible suspect was seen running up the street.
No arrests had been made yesterday, police said.
The Children's Garden was built in 2003 with grants and donations from 23 foundations and 250 individuals who bought engraved bricks for the garden walkway.
It is fenced in with a locked gate.
Ms. Pritts said the children had been able to enjoy the outdoor facility year-round.
She said she hopes the Butterfly Girl statue, cast by artist Peter Calaboyias, will be returned.
"We couldn't replace a one-of-a-kind artwork that someone made just for us," Ms. Pritts said. "Who knows why [vandals or thieves] would choose this venue? It's just a shame."
It takes a hard calloused soul, or lack thereof to do something like this.
Thanks to PittGirl at The Burgh Blog for the links.