Giving Back What Was Taken

At Free Wheelchair Mission, we say that mobility is a gift because we see how it transforms lives by giving people a renewed sense of dignity, hope, and independence.

In 2007, a stroke took away Zhang’s ability to walk, but it also took away much more – her savings, her son, and her ability to care for her home.

The stroke took away Zhang’s savings becfs_1001416ause her family spent everything they had to pay for her medical expenses. It took away her son because he and his family had to move far away to look for a job. And, the stroke took away Zhang’s ability to care for her home because she was unable to move.

Zhang wanted to help herself, but it was difficult. Thankfully, her husband was able to care for her, but he works during the day. Most days, Zhang sat in a chair waiting for her husband to get home from work  to help her. It was a lonely and demanding existence for this elderly couple.

The stroke took away so much, but a free GEN_2 wheelchair gave Zhang her dignity, hope, and independence back. Now, Zhang and her husband are very happy. She is able again to care for her home and venture outside with her husband. What a wonderful new start!

With tears in their eyes, Zhang and her husband thanked you for the priceless gift of mobility. I too, thank you.


Don Schoendorfer

The Greatest Gift I Have Ever Received

Javier lives in Honduras and received a GEN_2 wheelchair in April of this year. Javier worked for a large cruise ship years ago, but he developed diabetes and had to stop working because of severe hypertension. He eventually had to have his right leg amputated.

fs_100716With no way to earn money and support his family, Javier had what he described as “a few very dark years.” Sadly, during this time, Javier felt worthless. His home began to feel more and more like a prison.

When our local distribution partner heard of Javier’s condition, they delivered a GEN_2  wheelchair so he could get out of his home and be social again. Javier now uses his wheelchair to visit the doctor every few weeks for treatments, to visit his neighbors, and to even attend local soccer matches.

But, Javier’s wheelchair has allowed him to do so much more.

Soon after Javier received his wheelchair, he also received a sewing machine. Now, Javier has become the town tailor, working on everything from clothing to drapes!

Javier not only feels valuable again, but he loves that he is able to provide a service to others.

Because of your generous support, Free Wheelchair Mission was able to provide Javier with the gift of mobility, productivity, and purpose. With deep gratitude and a huge smile Javier said, “This wheelchair is the greatest gift I have ever received!”


Don Schoendorfer

Quilting for Mobility

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a group of women from Christ the Ray of Hope Lutheran Church sew hundreds of quilts for people in need. Throughout the year, these women donate quilts to homeless shelters, the VA hospital, and to police officers and fire fighters who give the quilts to children and adults who need them.

This month, these generous and talented women created a very special quilt called “Southwest Windows” which was sold at auction to raise funds for Free Wheelchair Mission. The quilt, designed and pieced by Barb Johnson and Pat Cross and quilted by Sharon Cross, sold for $2,500!

fs_093016Christ the Ray of Hope Lutheran Church matched that $2,500 – bringing the total donation to $5,000. And because the donation was received during our “x2 Gift Challenge” (September 1 – October 31) a group of anonymous Free Wheelchair Mission donors multiplied that gift TIMES TWO – for a total of $10,000. That’s enough to provide the gift of mobility to 125 people!

This kind of story really gets to me, in very happy ways. It is a very beautiful quilt too!

During this year’s x2 Gift Challenge, other creative supporters have hosted a tennis tournament and even a pickleball tournament to raise funds for mobility. We are so grateful to everyone whose generosity and creativity is transforming lives through the gift of mobility!

If you have a story to share about how you are helping us transform lives during the x2 Gift Challenge, please email me or post your story to our Facebook page. We would love to hear your story!


Don Schoendorfer

The Happiest Person You Could Meet

Kelly is one of the happiest people you could ever meet. Her vibrant spirit fills her family’s modest home with life and love. She is always full of joy – constantly cracking jokes and laughing.

fs_092316_2Kelly lives with her parents, two siblings, and grandmother in a Guatemalan neighborhood known as the “red zone” due to violence and gang presence in the area. Until recently, this 14-year-old young woman was only able to move with the help of her parents or a small stool that she used to get to the bathroom. She spent most of her days in the back room, in bed.

Two months ago Kelly received a GEN_2 wheelchair, and it has already transformed her life! Thanks to the gift of mobility, she can now play with and chase her siblings. Before receiving the wheelchair, Kelly and her mother rarely left home. But now, mother and daughter take daily walks together in the community.

If you ask Kelly where she gets all of her energy and excitement, she’ll tell you, “That’s just how God made me.” Now, thanks to your generosity and her wheelchair, the rest of Kelly’s community will be blessed to meet and know this lovely, positive, wonderful young woman.

Thank you for transforming her life!


Don Schoendorfer

Dreaming of a Wheelchair

More than forty years ago, Ms. Luong had both of her legs amputated above the knee after she accidentally jumped on a landmine. Unable to walk for more than four decades, Ms. Luong has done her best to find ways to avoid crawling on the ground. Most recently, she has used two small plastic stepstools to “walk” herself around.

fs_091616Last summer, Ms. Luong heard about Free Wheelchair Mission and was selected to receive a GEN_3 wheelchair. Ms. Luong waited two long months for her wheelchair to arrive in Phong Thu hamlet (Vietnam), dreaming of what the gift of mobility would mean for her life.

Finally, Ms. Luong’s dreams came true and she received her GEN_3 wheelchair. After the wheelchair arrived, she said, “That two month period was as much as two years to me because I was dreaming of a wheelchair.”

Now she no longer has to move with small plastic stepstools. With her wheelchair, Ms. Luong can move around her house, and can even navigate the narrow streets in her area where she works selling lottery tickets.

Because she is talented in making handmade things, Ms. Luong also uses her wheelchair to visit another nearby town where she makes and sells handmade gifts. Thanks to the wheelchair, Ms. Luong is productive, comfortable, confident and happy.

Thank you for providing the gift of mobility to Ms. Luong! Your generosity has transformed her life.


Don Schoendorfer

Cai Can Do More Jobs

Cai is a 45 year-old-man who lives in Xinyang City, China with his family. He has paralysis of the lower limbs due to poliomyelitis and is blind in his right eye. Cai has a son and a daughter who go to school, but Cai has been unable to find a job so his wife works to support the family. His mother also lives with them, and their family’s low income has made life very difficult.

Since he can’t walk, Cai has used a stool to help him to move. He has wanted a wheelchair, knowing that mobility would allow him to work, but his family could not afford one. Sadly, Cai blamed himself every day when his wife came home from work feeling exhausted. He felt responsible to provide for his family, but it was impossible without a wheelchair.

cai-jinxi-2Cai couldn’t believe the good news when he heard that Henan Disabled Person’s Federation (HDPF), our distribution partner in Guangshan County, was going to provide him with a wheelchair.

The local staff from HDPF shared that Free Wheelchair Mission provides wheelchairs not only in China, but to people living with disabilities in developing nations around the world. He was amazed!

The staff measured Cai carefully and presented him with the proper size wheelchair. With a bright, smiling face, Cai shook hands with the staff but could not say a word. His wife expressed gratitude on behalf of their entire family, saying, “I cannot believe you will not only assemble the wheelchair for us, but also teach how to use and repair it. You are so kind and nice. We would give our thanks to all of you!”

I give my thanks to you, too. It is your generosity that has provided the gift of mobility to Cai, making it possible for him to work. When he could finally speak, he said, “I can do more jobs in the wheelchair.” What a blessing!


Don Schoendorfer

Mobility Opens Doors

Odett is from Santa Cruz, Costa Rica. She was born with Cerebral Palsy, making it very difficult for her to move on her own. Unlike many people with disabilities in the developing world, Odett did have access to a borrowed wheelchair, but that wheelchair was very old and not very useful.

FS_090216_Odett.3jpgOdett recently received a new wheelchair from Free Wheelchair Mission, and the impact on her life has been dramatic. She has been taking classes at a local school. She is involved with the community. Her new wheelchair is allowing her to enjoy an active lifestyle!

Odett said that she would like to take a course in human relationships next, because she likes to help other people. She wants to get a job in customer service for people with disabilities so she can help more people with disabilities. In fact, Odett said she’s going to work hard to do “whatever it takes” to help people. What a powerful statement!

Your generosity and your commitment to provide Odett with the gift of mobility will have far-reaching effects. She has a husband, two daughters, two grandsons, and a father – all of whom live in the same home. They are already blessed by this gift. And as Odett continues her studies and begins to work with others, that blessing will be multiplied.

Thank you for transforming lives like Odett’s and so many others in Costa Rica with the priceless gift of mobility. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!


Don Schoendorfer