David Rivett, left, and Peter Pearce, of the Rotary Club of Gosford North, NSW, set out on a 1770km walk across the UK to raise funds for Wheelchairs & Desks for Madagascar.

David Rivett, left, and Peter Pearce, of the Rotary Club of Gosford North, NSW, set out on a 1770km walk across the UK to raise funds for Wheelchairs & Desks for Madagascar.

Two “super keen but mad” Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Gosford North, AUSTRALIA, David Rivett and 2014 Gosford City Council Citizen of the Year Peter Pearce, are walking 1770km from the Scottish Highlands to Lands End in the UK to raise funds for Wheelchairs & Desks for Madagascar.

A brand new wheelchair delivered by Rotarians direct to a beneficiary in devastated Madagascar costs $180. A donation of 10 cents per kilometre will pay for one wheelchair. The full price of a desk constructed in Madagascar by Rotarians is $15.

While David will walk part of the route, his main role is to provide support to Peter.

The walk commenced on June 10 at John O’Groats at the top of the Scottish Highlands and will take approximately 79 days to reach Lands End in the far south west of the UK on August 27.

The marathon walk includes The Great Glen Way, which stretches for 117km from coast to coast across the Highlands, linking the main centres of Fort William and Inverness, a 152km walk along the West Highland Way, which transverses the Loch Lomand and Trossachs National Park, and The Pennine Way, a 432km walk from the Peak District National Park along the Pennine ridge through the Yorkshire Dales down to the Scottish Borders.

Peter and David will visit many cities and towns along the route, including Inverness and Edinburgh in Scotland, Worcester, Gloucester and Bath in England, finishing in Cornwall at Lands End.

Contact has been made with District and local Rotary clubs in the UKto gain their support for the marathon walk to raise funds for the Madagascar Project. It is anticipated clubs will meet Peter and David along the way. They plan to do it tough by free camping or staying in van parks at night.

Peter and David will be visiting Madagascar in October 2014 to distribute wheelchairs, and assist the local people of Madagascar construct school desks. It is hoped some Australian Rotary clubs who appreciate the devastating conditions may donate a wheelchair or two.

To follow the big walk you can go to www.facebook/RotaryMadagascarProject

In late January Rotary District 5490 visited Hermosillo, Mexico and distributed 110 wheelchairs.   Rebecca Wilks, MD, a Past President of Peoria North Rotary Club, attended the distribution and wrote the below story.

“I have some history with the Wheelchair Foundation.  I’d read Ken Behring’s Book, Road to Purpose. Our club honors High School Students of the Month with wheelchairs donated in their names.  I’d even had (thwarted) plans to join another wheelchair distribution trip to Mexico several years ago.”

“There were 49 of us, Rotarians from Arizona and friends on a bus.  We were lavishly entertained in Hermosillo by our partners in this endeavor, the Hermosillo Pitic Rotary Club.  Like many International Rotary trips, it was as much a cultural exchange as a service trip.”

“Rotary District 5490 has been delivering Wheelchair Foundation chairs to various parts of Mexico for at least a decade.”

“There were 8 Rotarians and spouses from our club, Peoria North Rotary. We helped to deliver 110 wheelchairs that Saturday.  A dozen went to Guaymas to be used short-term on a rotating basis.  We were honored to hear some personal stories from the recipients and to see the power of connection of people across cultures.”

“I’ll let the images tell the stories.”

Eight-year-old Salamisa Vunilagi, Junior couldn’t stop smiling. He’s dreamed of one thing every day for as long as he can remember, and today, his dream finally came true.

Junior’s new wheelchair.

When Junior was an infant, he was diagnosed with meningitis, and the disease soon crippled him. Junior’s parents, Salamisa, Sr. and Vani Mainukulau, did everything they could, even trekking from their rural home to the nearest city of Labasa, in hopes of finding a cure for his paralyzed condition. They were broken-hearted to learn that nothing could be done. As each birthday passed, Junior remained completely dependent on his mother and father – while dreaming each day of independence. No longer a dream, Junior received a gift that changed the lives of the entire family – a new wheelchair.

This special delivery was made possible by the Wheelchair Foundation, along with the Rotary Club of Labasa, as part of the Vodafone “World of Difference” initiative undertaken by the ACATA Trust Fiji to provide assistance to the physically challenged. A total of 110 wheelchairs were presented to the Red Cross, the Spinal Injury Association, and other distribution partners over the course of 10 days, and one man in particular played a significant role in the success of this effort.

This will give them mobility to move around and be productive and they do not have to depend on others. My message to them is to use the wheelchairs wisely.
-Chetan Singh Heyer

Chetan (Chet) Singh Heyer is a native of Fiji, and his heart reaches out to the people living with disabilities in his homeland. During his visit to the country in 2010, Chet was alarmed by the overwhelming number of citizens in need of wheelchairs. He returned to the United States determined to make a difference in the lives of his island people, and became Founder and President of the fundraising project Fiji Wheelchairs.

Chet and his family aspired to bring the gift of mobility to their fellow Fijians, and with the help of the Wheelchair Foundation, the Singh Heyers were able to achieve their kind-hearted goal.

Jesse Devlyn

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of our dear friend and Rotarian Jesse W. Devlyn of Mexico. After fighting a long and courageous battle with cancer, Jesse died on Friday, August 25th, 2011, at his home in Mexico City surrounded by his family.

Nearly since the inception of Wheelchair Foundation, an alliance was formed with Fondo Unido Rotario of Mexico, which was established by Frank Devlyn. Jesse, besides managing Devlyn Optical with his brothers, and being Rotary Past District Governor of District 4170, also held a prominent role at Fondo Unido Rotario.

We had the pleasure to start collaborating with him very closely from 2003 on, and he quickly won the admiration of anyone who worked with him. He was loved because he was a true friend, a partner one could always rely on, a partner who was ready to help when problems arose, and he was fair, compassionate and generous.

We miss him and will always remember how, through his good deeds, thousands were blessed with mobility and hope.


Mary Honeybun

Cape Town, South Aftrica – Mary Honeybun of Cape Town, South Aftrica, turns tiny pieces of plastic into life-changing gifts! The incredible octogenarian raises funds for wheelchairs by collecting the tags used to keep plastic bags tied around a loaf of bread – something most people discard without giving it a second thought.

Mary sells the bread tags for recycling and facilitates the handing out of wheelchairs for disabled people with the help of the Wheelchair Foundation. Most of the recipients of the chairs had lost limbs through diabetes or the ability to walk due to a stroke.

Mary Honeybun was initially inspired when she heard of a project through which “people collect the plastic tags at the top of bread bags to raise funds for charity projects” and in 2006, she founded Bread Tags for Wheelchairs.

Currently, Mary Honeybun is working in partnership with Adri Spannenberg, director of the Polystyrene Packaging Council of SA – an NPO – and they hope that soon more people in need will be given their independence.

The Polystyrene Packaging Council have helped Mary organize the transport for her tags to the recycling plant and made containers for her collections. They also supply her with labels and photo frames, which she hands out during her talks to schools and other groups, although Mary prefers to re-use old boxes in the spirit of recycling.

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