THIEVES have stolen £1,400 worth of donations meant to help a Yate toddler with cerebral palsy walk for the first time.
Three-year-old Corin Potts needs a total of £35,000 to undergo life-changing surgery.
But his parents James and FayeÕs dream of seeing their son take his first steps was dealt a severe blow when burglars broke into Shireway Community Centre in Yate, raiding the safe where money from their latest charity event was kept and made off with the cash. They also swiped £8,600 of the centreÕs own earnings.
Mr Potts, from Woodchester, told the Gazette it was a setback for Corin who needs to receive selective dorsal rhyzitomy surgery before he starts school.
"ItÕs a kick in the teeth," the 31-year-old said. "We donÕt want them to get away with it. People put in all their hard work and money and have been generous. It makes you feel sick inside."
He said that stealing from a young child was a despicable thing to do.
"I donÕt think these people deserve to get away with it," he added. "ItÕs disgusting. People see Corin as YateÕs son. He is part of peopleÕs families. ItÕs a setback.
"They obviously knew there was going to be a substantial amount there."
Mr Potts said they were trying to find out whether they could reclaim the stolen funds through the centre's insurance.
An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said that two men smashed their way into the Shireway Community Centre at about 2.15am on Monday, August 20.
Neighbourhood Inspector Andy Workman said: ÒThe community has really pulled together to raise this cash for Corin and his family. I am sure that anyone with information about who is responsible for taking this money and causing so much damage to a valued community centre will come forward to help us."
Thanks to a successful fundraising campaign and the support of the entire community, the Potts family have managed to amass more than £26,000 over the past few months.
Mr Potts was hoping to reach £30,000 with the treasure hunt on Saturday and a football match on Sunday.
As it stands the Potts family has enough to pay for CorinÕs surgery, but they still need £10,000 for his costly rehabilitation.
Although burglars stole the funds raised at the treasure hunt, they did not get their hands on the £2,300 collected at the match as the sum was kept elsewhere.
The treasure hunt on Saturday involved visits to a series of pubs in Yate and Chipping Sodbury, starting and ending at the Shireway Social Club.
The game between former students at Brimsham Green School and King Edmund Community School - now Yate International Academy - was held at Yate Town Football Club with Brimsham Green winning 6-5.
Mr Potts, a keen local footballer, turned out for the King Edmund side.
A charity fun day in aid of Corin will take place on Monday, August 27 at the Rose & Crown in Rangeworthy complete with an auction, barbecue, raffle and homemade cider competition. The event will start at 1.30pm.
Anyone with information on the theft of the funds should contact the police through the website, www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact, call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.