June has always been a special month for the Wheelchair Foundation, and 2011 was certainly no exception. Since the year 2000, we have been providing wheelchairs to adults, teens, and children in need and have changed the lives of more than 850,000 people in 153 countries in an effort to distribute at least one million wheelchairs worldwide. Thanks to the generous and continued support of our donors, we’re closer than ever to reaching that goal. On Monday, June 13th, the Wheelchair Foundation proudly celebrated its 11th anniversary, with over a decade of delivering hope, mobility, and freedom around the world.

Rotary and Wheelchair Foundation

Kenneth E. Behring, founder of Wheelchair Foundation, with Smithsonian bust and its sculptor, Marc Mellon.

As the Wheelchair Foundation enters another year, we mark this special occasion by reflecting on how much we’ve accomplished and by looking ahead to what we hope the future will hold.

The history of the Wheelchair Foundation is an inspiring lesson of how one person can make an incredible difference in the lives of others and effect a positive change in the world. It began with one man – a man who embodies the spirit of giving with his kindness and compassion, who believes that history is an integral part of education, benefitting all generations who learn from the past.

The vision of Kenneth E. Behring, founder of the Wheelchair Foundation, became an international cause that would improve the lives of thousands of disadvantaged people across the globe. Guided by Mr. Behring’s core values as a patriot, humanitarian and philanthropist, the Wheelchair Foundation forges ahead with commitment for another successful year of delivering Hope, Mobility, and Freedom.

Wheelchair Foundation

VIDEO – Kenneth E. Behring explains why he feels National History Day is so important to the education of today’s students.

Kenneth E. Behring received an honor few living men have known on June 15th, when the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. unveiled a bronze bust immortalizing the great philanthropist for his outstanding contributions to that institution. Cast in his likeness by one of America’s foremost representational sculptors, Marc Mellon, the larger-than-life sized work of art stands on the second floor of the National Museum of American History.

This award honors Mr. Behring’s $80 million gift in 2000 and his $20 million contribution in 1997 to the National Museum of Natural History. Mr. Behring attended the unveiling ceremony with his son, David Behring, president of the Wheelchair Foundation, in Washington D.C.

The Behrings were also in town for the final round of competition in the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest. Each year, more than half a million students participate by choosing historical

Wheelchair Foundation

topics related to a theme which they ultimately present in the form of original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. After spending months on research and preparation, their projects are entered into competitions at local and state levels, and the program culminates in a national competition each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.

The children who take part in this event develop an appreciation for history – a quality that Kenneth E. Behring, as the primary sponsor, regards as invaluable.

For more information on the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest, visit http://www.nhd.org