Person of the Week
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Don Schoendorfer

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:21 PM EDT
What began as a family vacation turned into a life changing event for our Person of the Week.

It was during a trip to Morrocco he saw something he could never get out of his mind.

It moved him to a point that he took up a cause that has helped about 700,000 people around the world.

This week he was in Cashiers to show others how it will change their lives too.

Give some pointers to some passionate people and you end up...with a chair!

"The chair comes with a pump and patch kit."

Wheelchairs made for people around the world who can't afford one.

Don Schoendorfer, "so I said lets get the least expensive, most durable, functional chair we can find and put wheels on it."

Don Schoendorfer never imagined using his Ph.D in Bio Medical Engineering from MIT, to make wheelchairs.

He walked away from a promising career after a trip to Morrocco where he saw a woman who couldn't walk.
She was dragging herself across a dirt road, "and I said we've got to do something about that.  We've got to get these people some simply mobility.  Get em a chair with wheels. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that."
So he cut the legs off a plastic lawn chair, attached some mountain bike tires to it and created a $60 wheelchair, "Home Depot had the chairs for sale and toys for us had the bikes for sale and just got a couple of each and went back to the garage and connected the two."

He's been connecting wheelchairs and people to his cause ever since.

Rotary clubs in Western North Carolina have raised enough money to buy 550 wheelchairs to deliver to the poor and crippled in Bolivia.

"This could be a life changing experience.  It already has been."

Don is here to train them on how to put together an updated, even better wheelchair.

"For $71..that's the cost to save someone's life." 

Jim Hardy, rotarian, "a chair that will enable them to be raised off the ground and look people in the eye instead of looking up."

A chair to lift their bodies and their spirits.

"He's responsible for directly lifting almost 700,000 people in 87 countries off the ground."

"We don't know what their disability is caused by but we believe God loves them.  And when there in these chairs they're in God's hands."

Because they remain in his heart, he'll keep pushing on, "we can give them this chair and it will literally change their life."

Several rotarians will be leaving for Bolivia next month to help assemble and deliver the wheelchairs.

If you're interested in learning more about don and his non-profit, Free Wheelchair Mission click here.
Don Schoendorfer

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