Friday Story: Something New for Jazmin

Greetings , and Happy Friday!

There are so many life-changing aspects that come with the gift of a wheelchair; being able to help with daily chores, going to school and getting to be a part of the community are just a few. One aspect often overlooked is the unique experience of the recipient receiving something brand new that belongs only to them. This week, I want to share Jazmin’s story and how she felt special not only to receive a wheelchair, but especially because it was brand new:

Jazmin was born nearly 11 years ago in Peru with a congenital abnormality that will keep her from ever being able to walk. Because of this, she has faced many struggles but has tried to live as normal a life as possible, despite her setbacks. Her mom helps her get ready in the morning and her two brothers, ages seven and thirteen, help her get to school.

A few years ago she was given an old, worn wheelchair, but she was never properly fitted for it. Grateful for the opportunity for mobility, her family accepted the kind gift, but she never felt truly comfortable, and the wheelchair became less and less functional as she grew out of it.

All that changed when Jazmin received her very own, brand new, GEN_2 wheelchair! Now that her wheelchair fits her properly, she can sit comfortably for long periods of time and her brothers can get her to and from school more easily. She feels so blessed by God to have been given this gift of a BRAND NEW wheelchair.


Because of your generosity, Jazmin was given a wonderful gift – not only of mobility, but a great sense of excitement to have something brand new of her very own. Thank you for helping recipients just like Jazmin by providing them with the gift of mobility every day.


Don Schoendorfer

Friday Story: Living in the Dust

Greetings , and Happy Friday!

Many of our recipients live life on the ground, and only dream of the day that they might receive a wheelchair of their own. Gaetan’s story was very similar:

As a young child, Gaetan was diagnosed with epilepsy which caused him to fall down a lot. Over time, his injuries from falling prevented him from walking and his only mobility was limited to crawling on the ground. At 61 years old, he lived most of his life from the ground, covered in dirt. Despite a desire to work and help his family, Gaetan spent most days confined at home.

When our partner, World Vision Rwanda, gave him his very own GEN_2 wheelchair, Gaetan was overjoyed! Now he is able to move around his house, easily doing his daily chores and can even go out into the community to be with family and friends. Gaetan no longer has to live his life in the dust!


Thank you for helping people in need and for lifting Gaetan off the ground and into his very own wheelchair. If you haven’t yet, make sure to check out Spring Training at Free Wheelchair Mission—we would love for you to join the team and help us change more lives, just like Gaetan’s.


Don Schoendorfer

Friday Story: Wings for Lotus Blossom

Greetings , and Happy Friday!

It was 14 years ago this year when I was on a plane headed for India. I was going on a mission trip with my church and had brought a few of the first GEN_1 wheelchairs I had developed with me hoping to find people who needed them. Little did I know, that one girl’s smile would pave the way to thousands more wheelchairs for people in need. That little girl’s name was Kumudavalli, which in English means Lotus Blossom and this is her story:

The second day we were in India, we were taken to some slums outside of Chennai. We walked into the slums and passed many small huts with mental roofs until we reached the home of Lotus Blossom. When we went inside the dark hut, Lotus was laying on the ground watching us. One of the doctors told us that Lotus Blossom had been ill with a very high fever and that she had not been able to walk since and probably never would. She was, however, a perfect fit for her very own wheelchair.

The moment she was placed into her chair, her face broke out into a huge smile. She started to push the chair slowly onto the roads around her community. Her brother and the local children were clearing rocks out of the way so that she could easily roll along in her brand new GEN_1 wheelchair. They ran excitedly around her as she went for her very first ride. Lotus was mesmerized by the beautiful blue skies, the bright sun and the community she had only known from the ground for quite some time – it all looked so different to her from her new wheelchair. Her mother cried tears of joy and for once, everyone was proud of her. Now, she wouldn’t have to live crawling on the ground—she was now one of them.


About three years later, I was going back to India and wanted to stop and check on Lotus Blossom to see how she was doing. Her family told me that Lotus had a gift for me this time. Unbeknownst to me, Lotus had been building her strength using her wheelchair to stand and steady herself. When I arrived and came to her hut, Lotus stood from her chair and walked toward me! Needless to say, I was amazed!

A few years ago, a friend of Free Wheelchair Mission, Ellen Gaffney, wrote a children’s book based on Lotus Blossom’s story—Wings for a Flower. With its beautifully handmade illustrations, children of all ages will enjoy this book. If you would like to order your own copy or learn more about the author, Ellen Gaffney, click here.

Lotus’ story continues to motivate me to this day—I will never forget the joy on her face when she was lifted off the floor and placed in her wheelchair.


Don Schoendorfer
PS: Watch the video below to hear Lotus Blossom’s story!

Friday Story: Blessings for a Mother

Greetings , and Happy Friday!

In the developing world, healthcare is not easily accessible and poverty limits treatment even when it is available. The same was true for Erlinda in this week’s Friday Story:

Erlinda is 77 years old and has a wonderfully large family. She lives with her husband and two of her adult children. Over the years, she has developed osteoporosis, causing her great pain and has immobility. On most days Erlinda is bed ridden.

Her husband is her primary caregiver and her children help out as often as they can, but a wheelchair was outside the means of what the family could afford. Thanks to one of our distribution partners in Nicaragua, Erlinda was given her very own GEN_1 wheelchair!

Now Erlinda can help around the house with cooking and light cleaning. “I give thanks to God who has blessed me with this gift. May God bless you and your beautiful work.”


Thank you for giving Erlinda a second chance; her rediscovered mobility is because of generous supporters like YOU.


Don Schoendorfer

Friday Story: A Bright Future

Greetings , and Happy Friday!

Many of our recipients would love to help their families, but because of a lack of mobility, they are confined to their homes. This week, I wanted to share with you a story from China, and how a woman with determination and the gift of mobility was able to help her family.

As a young child, Wang suffered from polio, leaving her unable to walk. Her family struggled to make ends meet, but that didn’t keep her from dreaming of one day owning her own wheelchair.

Wang didn’t want to be a burden to her family any longer, so when she was 28 she contacted Henan’s Disabled Person’s Federation (HDPF) and asked them if there was anything she could do to learn a skill. They offered to send her to school to become a hairdresser and she graciously accepted the opportunity. During the six month training, HDPF gave Wang her very own GEN_2 wheelchair!


Now she is able to go to and from school and work with ease! She is excited for her future and the opportunities that are now provided to her because of her education and her wheelchair. She will be able to get a job, she can help her family…and no longer feels like a burden.

Thank you for helping recipients like Wang receive the gift of mobility, and for believing as we do that no one should have to crawl.


Don Schoendorfer

Friday Story: One Wheelchair – Two Lives

Greetings , and Happy Friday!

The gift of a wheelchair provides an instant transformation for our recipients and often their families, friends and communities. Today, I want to share with you a story of a mother whose life was immediately changed because of her daughter’s gift of mobility:

Mrs. Nkomo arrived at the wheelchair provisioning site looking weary. Strapped to her back with a towel was her 13 year old daughter, Hope. Mrs. Nkomo he had walked approximately 9 miles from Old Pumula, Zimbabwe. Filling out the paperwork for her daughter’s wheelchair, she explained that Hope had suffered from meningitis when she was a toddler and has never regained her ability to walk or speak.

Mrs. Nkomo’s eyes filled with tears as Hope was placed in her very own GEN_2 wheelchair. She turned to our partner and said, “You do not realize the burden that you have lifted from me today. I have carried this child everywhere for 13 years. May God bless you for giving my family this wonderful gift.”


This simple gift of a wheelchair changed two livesthank you for your help and for transforming lives through the gift of mobility.


Don Schoendorfer

Friday Story: Above and Beyond for Mobility

Greetings , and Happy Friday!

To provide the gift of mobility, Free Wheelchair Mission partners with hard working, in-country organizations who help coordinate the wheelchair distributions. They do amazing work and we are grateful for their partnership. This week I wanted to share with you how one of our distribution partners in Nicaragua went above and beyond the call of duty to help transform the life of a little boy named Maykel.

At nine years old, Maykel was out playing with friends and fell into a cistern—he was unable to move and desperately tried to get the attention of his friends or an individual passing by, but no one heard him. Sadly, he was forced to spend the night in the cistern and wasn’t found by his family until the following morning. Fearful, Maykel’s family rushed him to the hospital, but they were told that he had broken his back and he needed surgery that would cost them nearly $10,000—a cost far too steep for his family to afford. Instead, Maykel was sent home where his back healed improperly, causing nerve damage that left him unable to walk, and primarily bed ridden.

Three years later our distribution partner, Christian Aid Ministries, was introduced to Maykel and were excited to help him. They took Maykel to another doctor to evaluate him for surgery and to determine his potential to walk again. Unfortunately, it was too late – surgery could not help him walk, but they were able to provide him with his very own GEN_2 wheelchair! So instead of being trapped in bed, he is able to go to school and get around his neighborhood. Maykel and his family have been extremely grateful for his gift of mobility and for the present and constant support of our partner in the field who have continued to help them however they can.


Maykel was able to get out of bed because of your generosity and our partner’s consistent dedication to providing the gift of mobility! Thank you for your help and for believing, as we do, that no one should have to crawl.


Don Schoendorfer