Imagine investing every cent you had into a lifelong dream just to have it taken away from you in one night. That's what happened to a Biloxi business owner Wednesday. Keelia Altheimer moved from Chicago a month ago to open a sports apparel store and gallery in Biloxi. Altheimer attended high school in Biloxi years ago. The business was off to a good start until crime came into the picture.
A picture of baseball great Satchel Paige is just about the only thing that wasn't stolen from America's Past-times.
"You're looking at what used to be a full store of sport apparel that represented all of the teams, NFL, NBA, Harlem Globetrotters, Negro League baseball teams, and this is what's left, racks, empty racks," Altheimer said.
Like Satchel Paige, Keelia Altheimer had a dream.
"The Negro League Baseball museum is in Kansas City, and I thought it would be great to have a gallery here that represented the players and the teams that came from the South. We had a lot of players that came from Mississippi." Altheimer said.
That dream was becoming a reality when she opened America's Past-times in downtown Biloxi three weeks ago. But on Wednesday morning, her dream appeared shattered after discovering the store had been burglarized.
"I felt very sad and violated. I've tried to do something very nice for the community to represent everyone, and that's why I named this business America's past-times because it's a great place, Americans can't live without baseball. We can't live without football. We can't live without the celebration of basketball, and this place represented that, as well as the history of that." Altheimer said.
Like the baseball legends she so admires, Altheimer has been thrown a curve ball in life.
"I don't want to say I'm scared and I can't open the business again. I want to open up the business, and I want to fulfill the dream that I had, and that's what I plan to do."
With this type of spirit and determination, it's likely Altheimer will end up scoring big in the long run.
Altheimer did not have insurance.
A number of the items stolen carry Negro League logos including a rare Negro League all-team wool jacket. Police say they're still looking for suspects.