In outlying Santiago, Chile, two elderly sisters lived just blocks apart but were disabled and could not leave their homes. When the California-based nonprofit Free Wheelchair Mission gifted each woman with her own wheelchair, the siblings could finally make the yards-long journey to reunite face to face after 15 years.
Receiving the gift of mobility is a beautiful, empowering experience for these Chilean sisters, as well as 13-year-old Ma Hao in China, 91-year-old Fidel in Mexico and nearly a million other people with disabilities helped through the Free Wheelchair Mission’s generous work. With a doctorate in engineering and years of experience in the biomedical field, Don Schoendorfer founded his humanitarian organization in 2001 to deliver durable, inexpensive wheelchairs—at no cost—to those less fortunate in 93 countries to date. The World Health Organization estimates that 100 million people in developing countries are in critical need of a wheelchair but lack resources for obtaining one.
For a countless number of the planet’s poor, birth defects, land mines, disease, malnutrition, unclean water and other untreated health disorders lead to deformity and restricted movement. Often, those with challenged mobility must be carried everywhere. Others are left to crawl on the ground.
By partnering with organizations and individuals, Free Wheelchair Mission is on target to reach its 1 millionth wheelchair recipient soon. Right at Home, a leader in professional home care services for seniors and adults with a disability, is teaming up with Free Wheelchair Mission to help extend the gift of mobility to those who need it most. During Right at Home’s annual meeting, funds were collected to send 1,650 wheelchairs to children and adults in need throughout the world. A wheelchair opens doors to an education, a job, independence and social interaction. Mobility encourages renewed self-confidence and hope.
A gift of $80 will manufacture, ship, assemble and deliver one wheelchair anywhere in the world. Specifically designed to withstand rugged terrain in inaccessible communities, the wheelchairs feature common parts that can be easily maintained and repaired on-site, ensuring reliable, worry-free use for years to come.
Together, Free Wheelchair Mission and Right at Home are honored to collaborate and raise funds to provide the gift of mobility in Vietnam, Cambodia, Romania, Ukraine and everywhere in between.
“It’s quite an experience when you actually show up at somebody’s home, especially when they are not expecting you, because they have been waiting for a wheelchair for maybe 25 years,” Schoendorfer noted. “You put them in the wheelchair and instantly they gain this dignity from sitting up straight.”
How have you seen mobility transform a senior’s life?