Ambassador Highlight: Sixth Annual Run Walk Roll

Throughout the Holidays, we love to recognize some of our most dedicated supporters: Our Ambassadors. Ambassadors work tirelessly to spread awareness and embody the voice of those still without a wheelchair. Today we want to recognize an family of FWM ambassadors from Wheeling, West Virginia.

Chuck and Suzy

Chuck and Suzy Miller

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Since 2008, Ambassadors Chuck, Suzy, Eli, and Luke Miller have raised about 800 wheelchairs and gave the gift of dignity, independence and hope to each of the recipients. You’re probably wondering, well how do they do it? For the past 6 years, the family has put on the Annual Wheeling Run, Walk, and Roll 5K and Kid’s Fun Run. Their last race was on July 20, 2013. Despite rain and thunderstorms, the event yielded 330 runners (largest amount yet!), 80 volunteers, and raised over $13,700 to provide 192 people the gift of mobility. This race was part of a Tier 1 Race in the Health Plan’s Grand Prix Series.

Due to money raised from sponsorships, Chuck and Suzy Miller ensure that 100% of race registration money goes to the disabled poor to fund wheelchairs to under resourced parts of the world. At different mile markers, Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchairs are placed to remind runners what they are running for. Chuck and Suzy have helped keep enthusiasm for Free Wheelchair Mission high in Wheeling, West Virginia for over 6 years. Although our headquarters is over 2,300 miles away, Wheeling, WV holds a special place in our hearts for their dedication and love for our mission. It is because of people like Chuck, Suzy, Eli, Luke, and all others who participated in the Run, Walk, Roll, Free Wheelchair Mission is able to continue the good work of gifting mobility to those who desperately need it.

We are more than grateful for the Miller family and the success of this year’s Run, Walk, Roll that it has become one of our highlights of 2013. Thank you, Chuck and Suzy, for all your hard work!!!

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Race Recap: Long Beach Marathon Lifts 141 People to Mobility

This last weekend was the Long Beach Marathon and Team Mobility was as busy as ever making their miles matter. In all there were 23 people running and 24 volunteers for Free Wheelchair Mission and their combined efforts, doubled because our Matching Gift campaign is running until October 31st, lifted 141 people into a wheelchair of their very own!

This year’s Long Beach Marathon proved to be a quite a day and we wanted to give you a few highlights:

Marina White, one of our Team Mobility runners and an FWM volunteer as well, earned a Guinness World Record for becoming the youngest woman to complete 100 marathon races! She started running marathons in 2007 and hasn’t looked back since. Congratulations and thank you, Marina!

One of our staff, Kayleigh Bond, ran her first half-marathon in honor of FWM. We love to see our staff be involved with the mission outside the office: thank you, Kayleigh!

Our amazing ambassador Erin Tharp, and her family, completed the 5K race as members of Team Mobility. To date Erin has raised more than 200 people into a wheelchair thanks to her tireless service as an Ambassador for Mobility. Thank you, Erin!

THANK YOU to all of our amazing race participants and volunteers for giving their time and ability to help others—whether that meant riding in the bike tour, 5K, marathon, or half; all of you continue to inspire all of us here at Free Wheelchair Mission. Thank you for being a part of our team!

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If you’re interested in competing for more than a medal with Team Mobility, good news! The race season is just getting underway and there are still plenty of events coming up that you can be a part of including the Surf City Marathon, LA Marathon and Pittsburgh Marathon. But don’t think those are your only options–any race, anywhere can be run as part of Team Mobility. Please contact Ariel Rigney arigney[at]freewheelchairmission[dot]org for more information.

FWM Staffer Ariel Rigney Featured in Long Beach Business Journal!

All of us here at Free Wheelchair Mission love our mission and love being a part of it. Many of us also volunteer outside of FWM–Ariel Rigney has a passion for wheelchair and amputee athletics and the Tiffany Rider, Senior Writer for the Long Beach Business Journal, did a great write-up on Ariel and her work with the 26.2 Club for the Long Beach Marathon that we wanted to share with all of you.

We are extremely proud of Ariel and the work she does both for FWM and the many other groups she volunteers with–thanks, Ariel!

We Want YOU: to Run with Us!

Attention all SoCal running enthusiasts: we need you for the Long Beach Marathon on October 7! We have 5 half or full marathon spots left (discounted reg. price of $70) and 2 bike tour or 5K spots left (discounted reg. price of $35). It’s a great deal to support a great cause–please contact arigney[at]freewheelchairmission[dot]org for info and check out our Crowdrise page. Thanks and happy running!

Ambassador Highlight: United Stationers, United for Mobility!

Georgeann Ratko, organizer, pictured with United Stationers staff before the walkathon.

Last week Don and Angela, a couple of our FWM staff, were up in Chicago to meet with some of our outstanding corporate ambassadors, United Stationers. While they were there United Stationers became a member of Team Mobility–anyone who participates in an athletic event for Free Wheelchair Mission–and held a walkathon: 6,394 steps to help raise awareness and funds for Free Wheelchair Mission and global issues surrounding mobility.

Georgeann Ratko, seen above with walkathon participants, arranged the event and the United Stationers employees came out in full-force as upwards of 150 people participated. Although final numbers are still coming in, so far more than 185 wheelchairs have been raised as a result of the fundraiser!

We want to thank Georgeann for organizing the event as well as Cody Phipps, President & CEO and Tim Connolly, President – Operations and Logistics Services for their support.  A huge debt of gratitude is owed to United Stationers and its employees for their continued support of Free Wheelchair Mission. To all of you: thank you!

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If you’re interested in setting up a fundraising event for your company, club or church, please email Tracy at tpleskacz[at]freewheelchairmission[dot]org!

PS–if you haven’t yet be sure to vote for us in the 2012 CLASSY Awards for Health and Well Being and 2012 Charity of the Year!

Ambassador Highlight: Running, Responsibility, and Mobility! (And Smencils!)

Today we want to highlight one of our most long-standing (and outstanding) ambassadors for mobility: Lucy Cordova. Lucy has been running to support FWM for years now–and has gotten her students in on the action too! The Willmore Thunderbirds are a group of 5th and 6th grade students of Lucy’s that run with her as part of Team Mobility. (You can check out their fundraising page here!) Besides teaching the kids the basics in the classroom, by getting her students involved with Team Mobility Lucy is also teaching them how to “help others…[and] know the power they have to make changes in their world.”

Lucy and the Willmore Thunderbirds have been hard at work training and running—in April they ran in the Run Seal Beach 5K race. Through their fundraising efforts they were able to raise $1,099: enough to lift 17 people off of the ground and into a wheelchair. In a complete surprise, on July 9 Lucy was presented with a $500 Director’s Award from the Run Seal Beach organizers at the Seal Beach City Council meeting in recognition of her and the Thunderbirds’ efforts. With the added funds Cordova and the students have been able to lift a total of 25 people into a brand new wheelchair!

Lucy has some great ideas for getting her kids motivated to fund-raise. “What I’m doing is giving the kids 1 raffle ticket for every 10 “Smencils” (scented pencils) they sell for $1.50 each. My cost was .55 each, so FWM gets .95 from each one sold.” In fact, the idea is really taking off: “I thought it would be good to do this as incentive, but man, they’re selling a lot so I’m going to have to have a lot of items in the raffle!”

As always, our ambassadors never cease to amaze us with original ideas and original spins on some of the classics. Thanks to Run Seal Beach/the Seal Beach City Council, the Willmore Thunderbirds and, of course, to Lucy for continuing to make miles matter and running for Team Mobility!

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If you would like to support Lucy and the Thunderbirds, click here. FWM’s next Team Mobility event is the Long Beach Marathon on October 7, 2012. Race distances include 5K, 26.2 bike tour, half marathon, and marathon. Learn more at www.crowdrise.com/fwmlongbeach.

Team Mobility at the Pittsburgh Marathon

Although race day was March 18, we wanted to recognize some of our amazing Team Mobility runners from the Pittsburgh Marathon. This was the first time FWM had its colors flown in the Steel City’s marathon, which is one of the fastest growing marathons in the US. Thanks to the hard work of two passionate supporters, Linda and John, 25 runners took to the streets in both the marathon and 5K sporting their Team Mobility gear and making their miles matter!

Total lives transformed by this Run for Mobility event? 225!

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You can keep posted on all of Team Mobility’s upcoming events here! For more info on the Pittsburgh Marathon, click the logo below.