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Local Rotarians get rolling with support for The Wheelchair Foundation

By Staff | Jan 15, 2009

We have been hearing a lot about change lately especially in an abstract way, but I guarantee you the change I am going to write about today is real.

Rotary Clubs across the globe and other service organizations and businesses worldwide are partnering with The Wheelchair Foundation, founded in the year 2000 by Ken Behring (successful businessman and former owner of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks) to achieve its goal of providing a free wheelchair to every child, teenager and adult who needs one, but has no means to acquire one. An ambitious goal no doubt, but the commitment is there and the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club is joining this outstanding effort.

I wrote about this project last October when our guest speaker – Steve Agius, Chairman of the Wheelchair Foundation Committee for our Rotary’s District #6960 – came to tell us about this endeavor. Emily Kletzien, one of our new club members, decided to get involved and has challenged our club to meet a goal of finding funding for the purchasing of 30 wheelchairs for this organization.

Kletzien spoke with passion about this mission last Friday morning. She spoke about the freedom of mobility that a wheelchair provides a needy child, teenager or adult in impoverished areas of our nation and the world. She spoke about their increased ability to become productive contributors in society; individuals deprived by birth defects, war, disease (including polio), accidents, natural disasters and advanced age to regain their ability for full participation in life. Many of these people are now relegated to the fringes of society. They are stripped of their freedom and hope; dependent on others and even shunned in some cultures. The gift of a wheelchair is their life-changing moment. With new mobility, there is freedom and self-reliance. They can now go to school, worship, get a job or enjoy social activities. A gift of a wheelchair can change their life forever.

The Wheelchair Foundation can manufacture and deliver wheelchairs to their distribution partners worldwide (including Rotary Clubs around the globe) for an average of $150. This wheelchair would normally cost $500 in the United States but the large quantities that are purchased allow The Wheelchair Foundation to deliver each one for roughly $150, by a 280-wheelchair sea container. This same type of wheelchair sells for up to $1,700 U.S. dollars in some developing countries.

The need is estimated to be over 100 million people with physical disabilities worldwide that need wheelchairs, though less than one percent own or have access to one. You can join the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club in funding the purchase of 30 wheelchairs for The Wheelchair Foundation. For every $150 tax-deductible donation, you will receive a personalized certificate of appreciating with a color photograph of a wheelchair recipient, a person who had their quality of life greatly improved by the gift of a wheelchair. If you would like to help, contact Shirley Jewell at 337-1099.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club meets at 7:15 a.m. every Friday at the Beachview Restaurant, located at 100 Parview Drive in Sanibel.