Wheelchairs can be costly and very hard to come by, especially for those who need them in developing countries. Don Schoendorfer decided to help those in need by starting the Free Wheelchair Mission.
The Free Wheelchair Mission was started in Irvine, California in 2001 after Schoendorfer visited Morocco and discovered that an estimated 100 million people in developing countries who need wheelchair cannot afford them. From there, he decided to dedicate his time to helping those in need with the gift of mobility by combining plastic lawn chairs with sturdy bike tires and steel frames. With the help of gracious donors all over the world, the Free Wheelchair Mission is able to provide those in need with wheelchairs at no cost to them. Each wheelchair costs $80 to produce and ship to anywhere in the world. Last year, the Free Wheelchair Mission gave away its one millionth wheelchair.
“We are both ecstatic and humbled to have reached one million wheelchairs,” said Don Schoendorfer, president and founder, FWM. “Each wheelchair represents a life changed, someone who can now go to school or to work and can enjoy a life of mobility. It also represents a great network of generous supporters and committed partners dedicated to giving back and creating opportunity for people in great need around the world. We would not be here today without this support and are truly grateful to everyone who has helped Free Wheelchair Mission reach this goal.”
The wheelchairs have been sent to over 92 countries. Volunteers have partnered up with Free Wheelchair Mission to train and educate each recipient on how to properly care and use their wheelchair.
“When we first started our work, the goal was to change the life of each individual in need,” Schoendorfer said. “That is still our goal, however, reaching one million makes us realize that we can help another million — and then another million after that. There is so much need in the world for mobility solutions, and together we can make a difference, one wheelchair at a time.”