Free Wheelchair Mission
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The Free Wheelchair Mission is an international faith-based nonprofit, humanitarian organization dedicated to providing wheelchairs for people with disabilities in developing nations without the resources to obtain one. Working in creative partnership with a network of like-minded humanitarian groups, FWM has sent over 940,000 wheelchairs to over 93 developing countries around the world since 2001, delivering not only the gift of mobility, but one of dignity, independence and hope. Specially designed for use in rugged terrain, the FWM wheelchair combines the durability of a resin lawn chair and the strength of a custom steel frame, all tucked into a sturdy pair of mountain bike tires – and costs less only $77.91 each to produce. This organization was founded in 2001 by Don Schoendorfer, who has a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Headquartered in Irvine, California, FWM has over 4000 volunteers worldwide. Funding for the wheelchairs are provided by private and public donations including individuals, groups, corporations, churches, universities and foundations. To save on costs and ensure quality control, the wheelchairs are assembled by a pre-approved distribution partner in the country which they will be distributed and given to recipients for free. Free Wheelchair Mission's goal is to deliver 20 million wheelchairs to developing countries all over the world. Free Wheelchair Mission is on track to provide 1 million wheelchairs to people with disabilities by the end of 2017. Schoendorfer received the Above and Beyond Award during Medal of Honor Day on March 25, 2008, at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchairs include the GEN_1 wheelchair a simple cost effective mobility solution and the original iconic design; the GEN_2 wheelchair with a smaller frame for a more customized fit with FDA clearance in 2012; the GEN_3 wheelchair a foldable version of the GEN_2 for ease in transportation and storage with FDA clearance in 2014 and finally the GEN_4 mobility solution a hand-propelled trike for longer distance outdoor travel.