Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM) kicks off its 1 Million for 1 Million campaign on Sunday, Oct. 22, in Prescott, Ariz., the first visit to supporters in cities across the nation in celebration of this summer's major milestone -- distributing one million wheelchairs to people in need in 93 countries around the world since 2001. The humanitarian, faith-based organization provides durable and adaptable wheelchairs at no cost to people with little to no mobility in developing nations.
A highlight of the campaign is the screening of the new documentary, "Because No One Should Have to Crawl," narrated by Sam Waterston, best-known for his role on the TV show Law & Order. The documentary is part of the award-winning public television series "Visionaries," now in its 22nd season, which highlights rarely told stories of nonprofit organizations around the world that make a positive difference in their community and beyond.
Following Prescott, the 1 Million for 1 Million campaign will travel to Boston, Madison, Conn.; Orange County, Calif.; and Houston. More cities will be added to the tour through spring 2018. Each city was selected because of its concentration of supporters of Free Wheelchair Mission, many tied to churches and ambassadors that have provided both funds and volunteer help to FWM over the years.
Free Wheelchair Mission began in 2001 in founder Don Schoendorfer's garage, as the entrepreneur sought an innovative solution to the growing need for mobility in the developing world.
Currently, an estimated 70 million people need a wheelchair but cannot afford one, leaving people without means to go to school, work, or care for themselves. Many are left to crawl on the ground as their means of transportation.
Schoendorfer, an engineer by trade, found a way to build a wheelchair that could withstand the rugged terrain of developing countries, is easy to care for, yet costs just $80 for the organization to produce and deliver. Thanks to a strong network of supporters and global distributors, all recipients receive the wheelchair as a gift at no cost to them.
The documentary film includes dramatic footage.
The scenes elicit both tears of sadness and tears of joy as it chronicles the organization's journey through the years of delivering wheelchairs around the world. The documentary concludes with the grand finale -- a trip to Peru this past summer to give the millionth wheelchair to a 12-year-old girl who desperately needed mobility due to an illness that left her mentally and physically impaired.
And as FWM celebrates the millionth milestone, there are no plans to slow down. Free Wheelchair Mission's goal is to deliver its next million wheelchairs by 2025, half the time it took to give out the first million.
The 1 Million for 1 Million campaign invites individuals to transform the life of one of the world's neediest people - those living with disabilities in the developing world.
Schoendorfer believes that the dramatic, real-life stories showcased in the new documentary will inspire viewers to give the gift of mobility.
The campaign is based on a simple premise: if one million individuals become inspired, they will be empowered to transform one million lives, one wheelchair at a time.
Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM) is a humanitarian, faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs at no cost to people with disabilities living in developing nations. In collaboration with a network of like-minded partners, Free Wheelchair Mission has provided more than one million wheelchairs to those living with a disability in 93 developing nations since 2001, providing dignity, independence, and hope through the gift of mobility. Learn more at freewheelchairmission.org
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