When you see someone with a disability struggling on his way through the street, what would you do for that person? Many would do nothing, a few would try to help the disabled individual, but there is one person who was so moved about seeing such situation that he led the Free Wheelchair Mission.
Don Schoendorfer is a suburban biomedical engineer from Irvine, California. While he was on a trip to Morocco with his wife in the 1970s, he saw a disabled beggar who was literally crawling on all fours across the street. Shaken by what he saw, Don wanted to desperately do something to help her.
Because of that encounter, this unassuming engineer was moved and inspired to create something that will help not only that disabled woman on the streets of Morocco, but also those disabled people in every developing country. Because a standard wheelchair in U.S. would cost up to $1,000, it is nowhere near possible for people who have disabilities living in third world countries afford to buy such device.
To be able to help these people, Don used his skills and expertise to design and create a cheap and easy-to-repair wheelchair. He built such wheelchair out of mountain bike tires and white plastic standard-used lawn chair. He made adjustments and improvised everything in order to create a near-to-the-ideal wheelchair.
As of today, this generous and kind-hearted engineer was able to create and give away 636,405 wheelchairs to disabled people in poor and developing countries. Because of such act, the world’s poorest individuals were lifted from a life of dirt to a life of dignity.
Don’s ultimate goal is to build 20 million more of these chairs to distribute and give away to those who are in need of them. To help him realize his plans and objectives, Don founded the Free Wheelchair Mission.
The Free Wheelchair Mission is an international nonprofit, faith-based humanitarian organization that is dedicated to providing improvised wheelchairs to poverty-stricken disabled people in developing nations. This organization has already given away thousands of wheelchairs to over 81 countries worldwide.
Because of Don’s act of kindness and generosity, he was recently given the “Above and Beyond” Award. This award is presented to just three civilians each year for their extraordinary acts of services.
His big heart and pure intentions helped thousands of disabled people around the world to become hopeful and live a life with dignity and independence. Don is one great man to have envisioned such for the entire world.