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!

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