(Red Deer, AB) – Eight Rotary clubs from Alberta and Illinois celebrated the 10th anniversary of their first wheelchair distribution by returning to Huatulco, Mexico to deliver close to 500 brand-new wheelchairs in February.
Rotarians, family and friends joined the co-chairs of the project, Bonnie Ganske of the Rotary Club of Sylvan Lake and Neil Swensrude with the Rotary Club of Red Deer East in the hands-on delivery of the gift of mobility. Their goal was to provide dignity and freedom to the recipients and those around them as well as inspire others to continue to strive to improve the lives of people who have no means to access needed wheelchairs.
Through partnerships with the Rotary Clubs of Huatulco and Oaxaca Bi-Centennial in Mexico and CRIT, a local social service agency, new wheelchairs were delivered to children, teens and adults in 6 locations throughout the region. “Excitement, smiles and tears were shared by everyone involved in this amazing project,” reported Neil.
The program co-chairs have organized 8 distributions of over 2,400 new wheelchairs since 2003. Past destinations include Belize, Cuba, South Africa, Ukraine and the Philippines. This trip was a return to the location of their very first distribution with more than double the number of wheelchairs and helping hands. The low cost of $190 for the durable, multi-sized wheelchairs meant that the substantial donations raised by the team were able to make a difference for a significant number of recipients and their communities.
The opportunity for donors to participate in the actual delivery of the wheelchairs leaves an indelible mark on their hearts. “It inspires people simply to do more because they have the opportunity of seeing what happens,” Neil remarked. Scott McDermott, another Rotarian who traveled to Mexico, echoed his sentiments “this is my favourite part of the job: meeting someone, smiling, then getting in close and lifting them into their new chair.”
The Canadian Wheelchair Foundation is an independent Canadian registered charity with the goal to deliver brand new, free wheelchairs to persons with physical disabilities throughout the world who are without mobility or the means to acquire a wheelchair. With a strong focus on developing and newly industrialized states, the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation continues to change the lives of people and communities with a gift that extends hope, dignity, opportunity and independence to all.