Steve Chamberland (left), the face of the 50 Legs charity, works out
Clearwater, Florida - Steve Chamberland is the larger-than-life face of the 50 Legs charity. The former pro-wrestler, who lost his own leg in a motorcycle accident, founded the group and he raises money to help kids get state of the art prosthetics.
He helped Zoe Gibbs of Polk County get back on the volleyball court after she lost a leg in a horrific personal watercraft accident. This is what Zoe's mother told 10 News in an interview last fall.
"He is truly a gift from God," said Susan Gibbs.
More recently, 50 Legs has pledged to help little Ireland Nugent, the girl who lost both feet in a lawn mower accident. Chamberland has been by the family's side since the beginning.
But 50 Legs is now under state scrutiny. State regulators sent him a letter last month, informing him that 50 Legs should have registered with the state as a charity before it asked anyone for money.
"One of our staff actually saw a news item about the charity a couple of weeks ago, looked it up, and realized it wasn't registered; so we prepared a letter, which is what we would do in any case," said Erin Gillespie, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.
Chamberland's past is also coming into play. He was arrested in Pasco County and in 2009 pleaded guilty to Grand Theft. State law prohibits anyone with a felony within the past 10 years of soliciting for a charity.
But that does not mean that Chamberland has to divorce himself from the group. He just can't specifically ask for money.
Gillespie explains, "You could put documentation together, you could talk in the community about what a good job the charity is doing, but you could not request funding."
Reached by phone on Monday, Chamberland told 10 News that he intends to continue to do "good work" through the 50 Legs group and that the board was meeting Monday evening to work on the necessary paperwork for the state. Regulators in Tallahassee need that paperwork by Wednesday, or the group could face fines.
While refusing to comment specifically on the news about Chamberland and 50 Legs, Ireland's parents have indicated they are still planning to take their daughter to an Orlando prosthetics center recommended by the group.