More than 75 million people around the world living with disabilities need wheelchairs but, sadly, do not have them, according to the World Health Organization. For more than 20 years, a faith-based nonprofit called Free Wheelchair Mission has worked to close the gap by providing inexpensive, unique wheelchairs. Since its founding in 2001, the organization has remarkably distributed over 1.3 million wheelchairs to people with varying disabilities in 94 developing countries.
A Mission to Move
Free Wheelchair Mission was established by Don Schoendorfer, a biomedical engineer who has dedicated his design skills to combating immobility. Schoendorfer humbly constructed the first prototype, called the GEN_1 model, using a just standard white plastic lawn chair and two mountain bike tires mounted to a steel frame. He then began to disperse his innovative creations throughout the world on various mission trips.
Free Wheelchair Mission has since grown to produce three cost-effective and highly functional wheelchair types, with the addition of two more advanced designs called the GEN_2 and GEN_3. The models feature different designs that are intended for various terrains and other considerations of developing countries.
What’s Coming Up
This May 2022, supporters from around the country will join together for Move for Mobility, a month-long virtual fundraising event. This fully-accessible opportunity is slated to provide approximately 1,000 wheelchairs to people with disabilities on a global scale. Unlike traditional “run” or “walk” fundraisers, Move for Mobility enables participants of all abilities, from anywhere in the nation, to run, walk, hike, roll, swim, jump, bike or move in any preferred way.
Jessica Harris is a wheelchair user who will be passionately participating in Move for Mobility this May, along with her friends and family. Coincidently, May 1st also marks the anniversary of the accident which resulted in Jessica becoming a wheelchair user.
Jessica shared, “It’s an honor to move for mobility in my wheelchair with my friends and family for such an important cause. We plan to do a 5K in celebration of my 5-year life day!”
To support Move for Mobility, visit MoveForMobility.org.