Special Delivery: 550 Wheelchairs Arrived this Week

550 Wheelchairs arrived in Vietnam this week!

According to a study done in 2000, 1.3 million people are living with a disability in Vietnam –35% of which are living with a physical disability?

87% of the 1.3 million are living in rural areas — giving them less access to food, water, transportation, health care etc.

On top of that staggering statistic -63% of the disabled in rural areas are of working age — but unable to work.

The MAIN cause of motor disability in the rural areas are from illness or disease (35%)


Thank you for changing lives through the gift of mobility and helping us give 550 wheelchairs to Vietnam this week.

Special Delivery: 2,200 Wheelchairs Arrived this Week


This week was another big week as 2,200 wheelchairs arrived!

550 wheelchairs arrived in India, 550 arrived in China and 1,100 arrived in Angola!!!

Angola was the second country Free Wheelchair Mission ever distributed to. When Don first created our Gen_1 prototype, he built 100 wheelchairs in his garage. He became so focused on the wheelchairs and the idea of giving mobility, his family actually started to get a little concerned. I’m sure they weren’t expecting him to start an organization that has given away 781,000 wheelchairs all over the developing world! If you haven’t watched his story yet, you can watch this video about him and how FWM started by clicking here.

After his first trip to India and giving away some of the chairs he had built, Don was able to send some more to India and his first ever batch to Angola.

When Don arrived in Angola, he was shocked about how severe the need was.  Free Wheelchair Mission wasn’t born yet, and there was no thorough process of choosing recipients, creating distributions or finding partners.

There was a need… and a solution. 

As Don arrived at the distribution site he realized there was already a line of people anxiously waiting for a wheelchair. He got to work right away, diligently getting the wheelchairs out of the car and giving them to recipients. However, as the sun continued to move across the sky and the number of wheelchairs available started to shrink, the number of people waiting for their own chance at mobility continued to grow. Not only was the number growing, but the people who were coming last, who had taken a much longer time to arrive, would most likely would be leaving without a wheelchair…and sadly they were the ones whose conditions were the worst.

There was no way he would be able to give mobility to all those people in need. But, this was just the start of Free Wheelchair Mission – this is how we came to be. Don recognized how dire the need was and his passion to give wheelchairs away, free of cost, only continued to grow.

Here is a picture from Don’s first distribution in Angola.

Notice the difference? No brakes, no footrest, no cushion, no air pump and no hand rims. Now look back at the picture up top. Look how far we have come. 

Thank you for helping Free Wheelchair Mission come this far. Thank you for helping change lives and for providing mobility to those in desperate need. Thank you, for believing as we do, that no one should have to crawl.

Special Delivery: 1,100 Wheelchairs Arrive this Week

1,100 wheelchairs arrived this week: 550 in India, 550 in Mexico


Stats about India: 

  • One of our partners: Sathyam Ministries
  • Total Population: 1,028,610,328
  • Estimated Population that is disabled: nearly 22 million, or 2% of the population
  • estimated population that is disabled by movement: 6 million
  • Number of wheelchairs shipped since 2001: 92,570
  • Percentage of our wheelchairs that have gone to India: 11%

Final Volunteerism Award Nominee

The Volunteerism Awards are only two days away and we only have one more volunteer to share! We have talked about Evan as well on the blog and we are excited to celebrate him and the award ceremony this week!

Evan first volunteers for Free Wheelchair Mission in 2012 at the Long Beach Marathon. Since then, he has been a dedicated weekly volunteer who is always willing to help in any way that he can. His heart for Free Wheelchair Mission is evident in his dedication to come in week after week.

He has helped with many tasks including: management of our warehouse, wheelchair inventory and individual wheelchair shipping procedures. These tasks are not easy and can be somewhat disorganized by nature but are tasks that are crucial to our fundraising and spreading awareness of our vision. He has made things run smoother and words do not suffice to express our gratitude for his dedication.

Above it all, he is considered a friend to everyone in the office and everyone loves when he comes in to volunteer. Evan is consistent, innovative, hardworking and a great friend to all of us. His efforts have truly made a difference in our office and those in need of a wheelchair around the world!

Please click here to see his official nomination and wish him a congratulations!

Friday Story: A Long Trip


As most of you know, our distribution partners often travel to some of the most remote areas of the world to provide the gift of mobility. But it is their life’s work to lift people off of the ground and into their own wheelchair. The story below is from Causes for Change, our partner in Panama.

We had a wheelchair for Kevin, an 8 year old living with his parents in a very remote town of Guayabal. In order to deliver the wheelchair we had to travel by walking two hours, the wheelchair was delivered by horseback. The entire time it was raining very hard and we had to navigate through the mud. But we did not complain, we needed to see this family and provide Kevin with a wheelchair. 


Kevin’s family live by very meager means. They live off the land by growing their own beans, fishing and raising some of their own livestock. Their home is dark and has very little ventilation.  They also do not have an adequate chair for Kevin to sit in, so he spent much of his time alone in a hammock or inside on the floor. As he continues to grow, it has been more and more difficult for his mother to carry him or take him outside, so the wheelchair will really help, it will keep him safe and allow him to enjoy the scenery around their home. 


When Kevin saw the chair he became emotional as it reminded him of when his mother has to take him on a monthly basis to his doctor appointments by bus. The wheelchair made him feel like he had his own car with wheels, it was a beautiful thing to experience, his smile, and his happiness said it all. His mother too was happy and appreciative of how the wheelchair will help her as well.

Our distribution partners work hard and often under difficult conditions. We are so thankful for each of our partners who have the drive to provide mobility; we couldn’t do it without them. We also couldn’t do it without you and your support. Thank you for making children like Kevin have a brighter tomorrow.



Volunteerism Award Nominee #3

We are one day closer to honoring our volunteers in person, but we can’t wait to share with you about our next volunteer…or should I say volunteerwho are going to be joining us at the award ceremony next week! We told you a bit about John and Zeph when they recently spoke about FWM at 100.3 The Sound.

John Jaramillo has been involved with Free Wheelchair Mission for over two years now. Since first discovering the organization through a presentation at work, John has not only become extremely involved with our mission, but he has also encouraged his young son to get involved as well. Following in his father’s footsteps, Zeph has become one of our youngest spokesman for Free Wheelchair Mission and is instrumental in helping us educate today’s youth about the importance of mobility in developing countries around the world.

This dynamic father and son duo are regular supporters, event volunteers, and speakers for FWM, getting the word out about our mission in communities all over Southern California. Two of the biggest volunteer speaking engagements they have done for the organization were a feature during the LA Marathon on KTLA, as well as multiple interviews on 100.3 The Sound radio station!

We are extremely grateful for John and Zeph’s passion for our mission, and their dedication to raising awareness and support for our mission!

Please click here to see the formal nomination form and wish them congratulations!

Volunteerism Award Nominee #2

The Volunteerism Award is coming up and so today, we wanted to share with you another volunteer we are so honored to have – Carrie Tendler. We have shared about her once before in an ambassador highlight. This time, we wanted to share with you why she was nominated for the Volunteerism Awards!

Carrie has demonstrated her generosity with both her time and design talents over the years with volunteer work at schools, her church and ministry service. Two years ago, Carrie discovered Free Wheelchair Mission and immediately started volunteering on a regular basis.  Carrie’s family had personally experienced the need for a wheelchair within their family unit and recognized the difficulty and tragedy of the disabled poor who have no access to mobility in the developing world.

In addition to her weekly volunteer hours at Free Wheelchair Mission, Carrie has become a strong ambassador within her community, and has planned and managed many of her own fundraisers. She planned a luncheon in her home last spring, in addition to selling a delicious “hot chocolate” mix during the holiday season.  Her “hot chocolate” was a great success and to date, Carrie’s fundraising efforts have generated donations for approximately 70 wheelchairs.

Carrie’s grace, positive attitude and generous heart for others has made this world a better place for all!

Please click here to see all the notes of congratulations and her nomination form.