To those of us who live in the U.S. and in most other advanced countries, obtaining a basic wheelchair is not difficult. Amazon carries more than a thousand different types and sizes of wheelchairs, most of which can be shipped to your home within a few days. If you can’t find what you need on Amazon, a Google search provides even more options and information.
It’s heartbreaking to imagine that there are disabled people in this world who are forced to spend years waiting for the miracle of a wheelchair. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that there are 75 million people who are unable to get a wheelchair because they don’t have the resources. Sadly, they are forced to live on the ground or wait to be carried.
Due to disease, malnutrition, armed conflict, and lack of proper medical care, large numbers of people in developing countries are afflicted with conditions that affect their mobility. Without the funds for treatment, broken bones don’t heal, and substandard prenatal care leads to prevalent congenital conditions as well as complications during childbirth. Without wheelchairs, these circumstances lead to limited opportunities and economic obstacles for those affected.
Free Wheelchair Mission
Working from his garage, Don Shoendorfer constructed the first prototype wheelchair. It used a standard white plastic lawn chair and two mountain bike tires mounted to a steel frame. After building 100 of these models, he brought four with him on a 2001 mission trip to India, giving them away to individuals who were in need of mobility. The Free Wheelchair Mission was born.
A Partner Of StorageGives
StorageGives is the brainchild of Lonnie Bickford, a long-time entrepreneur in the self-storage industry. Through his philanthropy and the generosity of the people who make their living in the self-storage industry, StorageGives supports eight life-giving causes. The Free Wheelchair Mission, one of the causes impacted by StorageGives, was chosen because 75 percent of its total operating expenses go to serving those in need of wheelchairs in the developing world. Along with providing wheelchairs to those in desperate need, this charitable group provides independence, dignity, and, most importantly, hope, at no cost to the recipient.
“While digging water wells in Peru, I was able to see firsthand the overwhelming impact of the Free Wheelchair Mission,” notes Lonnie Bickford.
Robert Barringer, from Camino de Vida Church (CDV), a distribution partner for Free Wheelchair Mission, invited Bickford to see one of these wheelchairs being delivered to a young boy who had lost mobility due to an undiagnosed illness. Sadly, this six-year-old boy’s family was transporting him in a baby stroller. “It’s hard to express how deeply moved I was when I saw the abundant joy and gratitude of this boy and his family. Watching their heartfelt smiles and happy tears, I knew that I had to be involved with this organization.”
Bickford goes on to say, “seeing a water well finished is exciting, but delivering a wheelchair is one of the most emotionally rewarding experiences I’ve had.”
Free Wheelchair Mission, a faith-based nonprofit, is committed to becoming the leading provider of mobility in developing nations. They design and manufacture cost-efficient, durable wheelchairs for individuals living with disabilities in under-resourced nations.
This humanitarian organization works to distribute more than 100,000 wheelchairs annually and is focused on a goal to distribute a second million wheelchairs by the end of 2025. To date, Free Wheelchair Mission has distributed 1,197,582 wheelchairs in over 93 countries worldwide. They are transforming lives by giving people educational and employment opportunities that they only dreamed of before.
When you give the gift of mobility, you empower a life and become an answered prayer. There are countless stories of lives shattered by injuries and disabilities that have been changed by receiving the precious gift. A wheelchair enables children to go to school and adults to go to work and provide for their families.
Peter, 30, is the youngest of six children. While working as a mason in Kenya, a fall caused a spinal cord injury that paralyzed his lower body. Following his time in the hospital, he went back to his village to live with his parents and sister, who served as his caregiver.
After living for a decade without mobility, his new wheelchair allows him the independence to take public transportation to work. Additionally, he is able to do some of his work from home on a laptop that was provided to him. “A big thank you for your assistance in making me mobile again,” said Peter. “I am able to accomplish more than I had expected to.”
When Kwezi, age 55, was a young child, he contracted polio. This affected his ability to walk on two feet; since that time, he has been walking on all fours. His limited income from repairing shoes was not enough to purchase a wheelchair; and, on top of his mobility challenges, he had to deal with a local stigma. In parts of Uganda, disabilities are seen as a curse by God, and those living with them are shunned by others.
Happily, Kwezi’s circumstances improved tremendously when he received a new wheelchair. The team from the distribution center, Father’s Heart Mobility Ministry, showed Kwezi that he wasn’t cursed by God but loved by God.
How You Can Help
Peter and Kwezi are only two of the hundreds of lives being changed daily in developing nations. With a wheelchair to aid mobility, disabled people can live more productive lives. You can help transform the devastating effects of diseases and accidents into meaningful, hopeful realities.
Free Wheelchair Mission distributes an average of 178 wheelchairs every day, but there is still work to be done. As far as this organization has come, millions of people are still waiting for wheelchairs. It is only with the generous support of organizations like StorageGives that so many people can receive the gift of mobility.
StorageGives.com is an easy way for self-storage owners to make a big impact with little effort. Getting involved is simple. There are four different options to choose from that will benefit the StorageGives charities:
- Host your auctions on its sister site, StorageAuctions.com.
- Donate any amount from your unit sales.
- Make a direct donation as a company or an individual at any time in any amount.
- Be a StorageGives Champion. Help build awareness by spreading the word about the huge impact that StorageGives is making through the generosity of the self-storage industry.
Self-storage operators can donate to StorageGives with the confidence of knowing that 100 percent of their donations, whether they are directly donated or generated through the
StorageAuctions.com website, will go directly to where they are needed most. Causes That Make A Difference StorageGives aligns only with charities that are carefully vetted across numerous causes to be able to make the most significant impact. From providing life-saving necessities to children and adults in developing nations to caring for veterans and those with diverse medical needs, StorageGives is working hard to make a difference. For more information go to StorageGives.org.