Blessed to be a Blessing

As we pause to reflect on our blessings, we are reminded that we also have the privilege of blessing others.

Soun lives in Roarng Leu Village in Cambodia. In 2006 he fell from a tree and suffered a spinal cord injury. His wife took him to the hospital in Phnom Penh, but Soun never regained the ability to walk.

23-Soun Bun Lay (1)As years went by Soun struggled with being unable to provide for his family. He said, “I want to care for my wife and my children, but I can’t. I want to be with other people, but I can’t. I think that if I could have a wheelchair, my life will be better than this. So I pray to God for a wheelchair.”

Soun’s prayers were answered when he received a GEN_1 wheelchair through our distribution partner, CBN Cambodia.

In Soun’s own words, “I want to thank God so much for loving me. I can say my life is changing because God blesses me through you, who gave me this wheelchair. I feel as if I can walk again because I can move easily from place to place. Thank you!”

We, too, offer our thanks for the blessing you are to Free Wheelchair Mission and to the hundreds of thousands of people around the world whose lives have been changed by your generosity.

Blessings,

Don Schoendorfer

P.S. Not quite done shopping? There’s still time to visit our Christmas shop and send a card or eCard to a friend or family member who will then be able to designate a wheelchair for delivery to Africa, Asia or South America.

Life Keeps Getting Better

We love to share stories of the joy and immediate relief upon receiving the gift of mobility. But today we want to share the wonderful story of ongoing life transformation one family in Peru has experienced.

Doreli was forced to quit her job with an airline to care for her beautiful baby girl, Aimar, who was born with serious health issues. She made ends meet with support from her ex-husband and help from her parents.

Aimar FSThree years ago, Aimar received a GEN_2 wheelchair, and it changed both their lives. Mobility made trips for therapy possible, and therapy in turn made Aimar more autonomous. Her fine motor skills improved and she could pick up toys and even help with chores, such as sweeping the floors. She was able to begin attending school, and she could go with Doreli to the market and to visit neighbors, which gave them both much needed interactions outside the house.

Aimar’s confidence and self-reliance soared as she began participating in normal childhood activities. She even won a costume contest at school!

The changes for Aimar also meant changes for her mom. Doreli was able to get a job as an education assistant at an elementary school and begin taking university courses as well. And this past summer they were able to move out of her parents’ home into their own place in another town.

The ongoing effects of mobility spread far beyond the initial gift. Your generosity provides mobility, which ripples out and touches all areas of the recipients’ and their families’ lives. Thank you for lifting and changing lives around the world!

Blessings,

Don Schoendorfer

P.S. Still have shopping left to do? Consider a holiday greeting card or eCard from our Christmas shop. They are a great way to change a life and share the message of FWM with your friends and family.

One Family’s Double Blessing

Last month a Vision Trip team went to Costa Rica and distributed 150 wheelchairs in seven locations with our distribution partner, Do It Center Foundation. In the city of La Cruz they were able to bless one family twice!

20151108_091948 Nicolasa MargaritaNicolasa has spent a lifetime putting others before herself. She raised nine children who live nearby and help care for her. A few years ago she received a wheelchair to help her get around as her Parkinson’s disease made walking difficult. But she could still walk a little, and she knew someone who needed a wheelchair even more than she did, so she gave hers away. Now at 95 and unable to walk at all, she was ecstatic to receive a GEN_2 wheelchair. This time she is keeping it for herself and can’t wait to be more independent.

A year ago Nicolasa’s daughter Margarita, 65, went to bed feeling fine. But when she awoke in the morning, she had no strength in her legs. Doctors have been unable to pinpoint what happened, though they speculate bacteria in her spinal cord may have caused the problem. Nothing has helped her regain her strength, so a grandson has been carrying her. When she received her own GEN_2 wheelchair she said, “Now I can cook!” Like her mom, Margarita finds great joy in caring for others, including her five sons, three daughters and many grandchildren.

In one day, with the simple gift of two wheelchairs, the lives of so many family members across four generations changed. What joy to see such transformation!

Thank you, our faithful supporters, for being agents of mercy around the world. It is your generosity fueling our mission to provide the gift of mobility to as many people in as many places as possible. Together we are seeing lives changed!

Blessings,

Don Schoendorfer

P.S. Looking for gift ideas? Visit our Christmas Shop to find a card or eCard to give to that special someone in your life. The card recipient will be able to designate a wheelchair to go to one of the three continents we serve.

One Smile at a Time

What if your only way to communicate was with your mouth? Not by speaking, but by smiling. That’s Norik’s life. Born with cerebral palsy and unable to move or speak, he can smile. And he does when he sees or hears members of his family. He loves his baby sister!

Norik is eight years old and spends most of his life on the sofa. His family makes him comfortable and tends to his needs. They even sit up with him through the night when he is unable to sleep, so he won’t be lonely or scared.

norik in wheelchairBut all of them want a better life for Norik, and—with the support of World Vision Armenia— Norik received his very own GEN_2 wheelchair.

“It is a huge support for these families who’ve lost hope, but keep doing their best for their children. Norik’s family can now easily cultivate the land next to their house and take Norik with them to enjoy the sun,” shared Artyom Grigoryan, World Vision Armenia Aparan Area Specialist.

“Now Norik can easily be a part of our day. We will not be attached to his sofa that much anymore. I know that this will bring a good change in his life,” his mother, Elmira, said with tears in her eyes before adding, “I really hope that one day we will be a healthy and happy family all together.”

Giving the gift of mobility to one, changes the lives of many. Thank you for helping change the future of Yorik’s family and countless others!

Blessings,

Don Schoendorfer

P.S. Are you interested in giving a unique gift this Christmas? Make a global impact with an FWM holiday greeting card or eCard from our Christmas shop.

FREEDOM FOR KENNEDY

Poet John Donne said, ‘No man is an island.’  No one knows this better than Kennedy Ngandu, a farmer in rural Zambia.  When Kennedy reached his mid-70s, his legs began to fail him.  This frightened him for more than one reason.  He was worried about losing the freedom mobility offers, and as a farmer, he needed mobility to maintain his livelihood.

At the local clinic, Kennedy learned he might be suffering from Kaposi Sarcoma, an AIDS-related cancer.  Suddenly, he needed help to go even a few steps and over time, the leg paralysis worsened until he became bedridden.

When you stop walking, that is when you appreciate the work of the legs so much.  When you are in bed for 24 hours, it is not an easy matter.  Sometimes I cried because there was no one to take me outside. My wife was unable to lift me and my adult sons were busy with their own families and daily obligations. Depending on others to move made life unbearable.

kennedy

Kennedy’s sorrow lightened when he was given his very own FWM GEN_1 wheelchair.  His renewed ability to go outdoors on his own lifted his spirits. Although he still struggles with poverty and leg pain, he feels a renewed joy in life. For Kennedy, mobility means self-sufficiency and dignity. His wheelchair lets him interact with his grandchildren and other relatives without feeling like a burden.  He is happy in their presence once again.

Thank you for your help in easing the cares of recipients like Kennedy.  The elderly have a wealth of experience to share and mobility allows them to spend time with their families and those they care for most.  Your support and generosity makes a world of difference in the lives of wheelchair recipients throughout the developing world.

Blessings,

Don Schoendorfer

Friday Story: The Smell of the Sun

Occasionally we receive a story from the field directly from the recipient and I found the story of Yang Bao very compelling. So many of our wheelchair recipients live life from a backroom feeling depressed and even useless. Yang Bao is a 51 year old man from a remote village in Xixian County, Henan province, China who was involved in an automobile accident and left unable to walk.

My name is Yang Bao and several years ago a car accident separated me from the outside world. I only lay on the bed and cannot see the sun anymore. One day seems like a year.
My wife suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis and can barely take care of herself. She cannot care for me and every day she sees me on the bed, she cries. Our daughter is married and lives far away, but she is the only one we can rely on to help care for us. We have no money or income and I am only a burden to my family. One day I decided to end my life and crawled to the kitchen to find a knife. My brother found me before I was able to harm myself and was very angry with me and said “a live dog is better than a dead lion, you are a pillar of the family. Dead is easy, but your family will suffer extreme pain that you will never know.”
From that moment on, I was determined to live strong! Being a former primary school teacher, I began teaching students from my home to feel useful, but I still could not get outside to smell the sunshine. Until one day when the Chinese Christian Council and the Henan Disabled Person’s Federation brought me my very own GEN_2 wheelchair from Free Wheelchair Mission. We were all overcome with joy. Now I can go outside to enjoy the smell of the sunshine and the spring flower blossoms. The sunshine warms the earth, I absorb power from the sun.
Yang Bao
It is so heartwarming to hear what a difference the simple gift a wheelchair can make in someone’s life. Thank you for letting me share Yang Bao’s story and for all you do to provide mobility to those in need. So many are blessed because of the generosity of people like you! THANK YOU!

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

Friday Story: 12th Annual Miracle of Mobility

Greetings!

As many of you know, Thursday was our annual Miracle of Mobility event. As Founder and  President of Free Wheelchair Mission, I have had the pleasure of watching this event grow over the last 12 years. This year, thanks to you, I am humbled and honored to share that we far exceeded our original goal of 14,702 wheelchairs. Through your generosity, we raised $1,623,030.80 which equates to 20,832 lives transformed. What an incredible accomplishment!

There were many memorable moments from our evening from the Harvest Praise Ensemble to the Beach Pointe Singers duet. But the one that stands out to me is the inspiring message from Nick Vujicic who brought the house to tears with his personal story of meeting people with disabilities in the developing world.mom_nick and don2

I was so pleased with the acknowledgement of our ambassadors; specifically Kevin Ely, whose goal is to run a marathon in all 50 states. So far he’s completed 38 states to raise money to fund a full container for 550 people who need wheelchairs. In less than a year, he’s raised over $31,000! Amazing! Kevin is not alone, there are many of you out there right now who are raising awareness about FWM and are providing mobility around the world with your efforts – THANK YOU!

I want to acknowledge our incredible event strategy team and volunteers, our motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, our dear friend Janice Munemitsu for the invocation and the FWM staff for organizing such a wonderful and purposeful evening.

On behalf of more than 860,000 wheelchair recipients worldwide, as well as 20,832 soon-to-be recipients as a result of last night’s event, I want to extend my most sincere appreciation to all of you, our attendees, sponsors and supporters who made each and every one of these newly transformed lives possible.

THANK YOU!

Blessings,

Don

mom_Don_S_MoM15_5 mom_seg4