Born with brittle bones, petty trader Yee Gan Chee, now 37, broke her legs six times as a child and could no longer walk by the time she was in Standard Three.
“My leg would break even if I fell from a low level. As I was very hyperactive as a kid, I fractured my left ankle four times and my right ankle twice,” said the ASEAN Paralympic powerlifter from Penang.
The first time it happened was when she was only 10 months old.
“I was on the high chair eating a biscuit when some neighourhood kids accidentally knocked me over,” she said, adding that the last time she broke an ankle was when she was nine.
Yee said she learned to walk with her knees and that she used to get rheumatism every time it rained.
In 1998, she was fitted with custom-made shoes with plastic moulds.
“It took me two years to get used to wearing the shoes before I could walk unaided. Even now, I only wear the shoes when I have to leave the house, as it is quite painful,” she said.
Yee was one of 25 people who received new wheelchairs from the Rotary Club of Tanjung Bungah in Penang on Saturday.
The oldest recipient was Ong Yew Leong, 92, who lost the ability to walk a year ago.
One of his sons, hawker Ong Cheong Pin, 48, said it would be easier to move his father around instead of having to carry him.
“He’s uncommunicative, but I’m sure he would appreciate the mobility,” he said.
Society of the Disabled Persons Penang president Teh Lay Kuan said 16 of the recipients were its members.
Teh, who lost the use of her legs since four through polio, said she was pleased to get a new wheelchair to replace her old one that she had been using since age seven.
The club’s Wheelchair Project chairman Ronny Tan said the idea for the project began in April 2007 during a visit from its sister Rotary Club of Icheon Namcheon from South Korea.
“Through the Rotary Foundation Matching Grant Programme, we were able to secure a total of US$16,500 (RM53,509). With the sum, and the support of the Wheelchair Foundation, we are able to import 100 good quality wheelchairs with mountain bike tyres.
“These 25 recipients are the first batch. We hope to complete giving away the balance of 75 wheelchairs within a year,” he said.