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Dear Friends,

I just turned 65 and applied for Medicare. Fortunately, I have been in excellent health and have never spent a night in the hospital or needed surgery. Most of my friends are also active and healthy. I grew up adjacent to a large retirement community where the “active adults” played shuffleboard and bingo instead of the biking, hiking and skiing that we do. Our Baby Boomer generation, along with the Greatest Generation, has created exponential growth in the “65 and over” age bracket, 55 million Americans, and nearly two billion seniors worldwide.

Our elders are living longer and their sheer numbers will create a much greater demand for mobility assistance devices like wheelchairs. Many who need one, will not be able to afford one. In addition to neurological conditions like strokes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and post-polio syndrome, they will be heavily impacted by orthopedic ailments such as arthritis and diabetes amputations. Knees and hips will also be wearing out – even for people that were superb athletes in their youth – as was the case with my father who needed a walker and cart the last 7 years of his life.

Of the almost 40,000 wheelchairs we have given out to people in the United States, over two-thirds were given to people in this age category. The Wheelchair Foundation has worked with all types of veteran groups including hospitals, Veteran Centers, Honor Flights, and outpatient clinics. One of my greatest honors was to accompany 25 WWII Veterans in our red wheelchairs back to Washington, DC. We have also distributed thousands of wheelchairs to Independent Living Centers across the country and replaced the wheelchairs for many of the elderly who lost their wheelchairs during Hurricane Katrina.

The provision of the wheelchair is a very effective way to alleviate the impact of any mobility limitations for my “new” group. Let’s work together this holiday season to increase their independence, improve their daily living, and lower their probability of placement into a long-term care facility.

Choose the gift of mobility this holiday season by dedicating gifts to your friends and family and sponsoring wheelchairs in the name, honor, or memory of someone you love. For your donation of $150, you will receive a beautiful presentation folder with a photo of a recipient, and a personalized certificate thanking or honoring that special person in your life.

Donations in any dollar amount help change the lives of those who are less fortunate and in need of mobility.

With your gift of $100 or more, we will send you a candy apple red triple-function pen with flashlight and stylus along with our 3-Ply cotton, reusable face mask to remind you throughout the year of your generous donation.

As an additional token of our appreciation, with your donation of $500 or more, we will include our multi-functional aromatherapy UVC sterilizing box.

No shopping, wrapping, or shipping! Simply call us directly at 877.378.3839, donate online through our website (WheelchairFoundation.org), or use the enclosed envelope to donate by mail. Please make your donations by December 10th to allow sufficient time for us to prepare and mail your customized presentation folders.

We at the Wheelchair Foundation are exceedingly grateful for your decision to provide the gift of mobility and allow us to continue the mission of reaching those in need of mobility around the world. Thank you for your generous support of those who are less fortunate than we are.

Sincerely,

Happy Holidays!

David E. Behring
President

Rotary - Monterrey MX 2020

In the last week of February, earlier this year, we returned to Monterrey, Mexico, for a wheelchair distribution and other “hands-on” community service.  On Friday, we painted a Senior Center for Alzheimer’s patients (“celery white” was the color they chose), planted five trees, and presented three people with wheelchairs. One of them was a polio survivor, which made the day even more powerful.  Because of the efforts of Rotary, and the Gates Foundation, we don’t really see any young people with polio anymore, and most people today don’t realize how devastating disease this was a half-century ago.

Along with about 20 other Rotarians from Northern California, we interacted with Rotarians from many of the Monterrey area’s 18 Rotary Clubs.  Their hospitality is legendary and it was so fun to look at their projects and enjoy Members Night Out dinners (including a restaurant known for its goat or “Cabrito” dishes) as we continue the “Amigos Para Siempre”, “Friends Forever” philosophy we adopted 17-years-ago with the Monterrey Rotarians.  It has been so rewarding for us to partner on so many projects.

Jeff and David BehringDear Friends,

As many of you are probably aware, we sadly lost the founder and visionary of the Wheelchair Foundation, Ken Behring, in late June. My father launched the Foundation nineteen years ago in order to provide mobility to people across the globe. He met with countless world leaders to enlist their support in helping the physically disabled in their countries. Ken was largely responsible for making it possible for over 1,100,000 people to receive the special gift of a wheelchair.

My brother Jeff and I accompanied our father on many distribution trips and were always inspired by his compassion and dedication. We saw him in action with President Vicente Fox and his wife giving away 800 wheelchairs in a long but emotional day in Mexico City. Several years later my mother, Jeff and I joined him in Tangshan, China for the largest distribution in one day in history- 1000 wheelchairs! After the dignitary speeches were finished, Ken stepped off the stage and proceeded to “meet and greet” every recipient and their families, which was one of his trademarks. We knew that would take an entire day, so each of us divided up the crowd into quadrants and took responsibility for greeting 250 people. My father also wanted to teach his grandchildren about helping others and took them on wheelchair distributions to Mexico during Christmas and China during Thanksgiving. Ken felt that it was paramount to instill the philanthropic spirit into kids at an early age and he always loved to hear about school children raising funds to help those less fortunate.

My brother Jeff and I, along with our dedicated staff and volunteers at the Wheelchair Foundation, pledge to carry on Ken Behring’s mission of helping as many physically disabled people as possible. We have achieved a tremendous amount of success but there are still 99 million people out there that need the gift of mobility. We hope you can join us in continuing my father’s dream.

Give the Gift of Mobility this holiday season by dedicating gifts to your friends and family and sponsoring wheelchairs in the name, honor or memory of someone you love. For your donation of $150, you will receive a beautiful presentation folder with a photo of a recipient, and a personalized certificate thanking or honoring that special person in your life.

Donations in any dollar amount help change the lives of those who are less fortunate and in need of mobility.

With your gift of $100 or more, we will send you a red triple function pen with flashlight and stylus to remind you throughout the year of your generous donation.

As an additional token of our appreciation, with your donation of $500 or more, we will include our aluminum constructed, Tomahawk Safety Flashlight.

No shopping, wrapping or shipping! Simply call us directly at 877.378.3839, donate online through our website (www.wheelchairfoundation.org), or use the enclosed envelope to donate by mail. Please make your donations by December 10th to allow sufficient time for us to prepare and mail your customized presentation folders.

Happy Holidays!

Sincerely,

David E. Behring
President

Article By Jody Morgan of the Alamo Today & Danville Today News

The Wheelchair Foundation, officially established by Ken Behring on June 13, 2000 (his 72nd birthday), has delivered 1,107,349 wheelchairs free of charge to individuals worldwide in over 155 countries who have no means of affording the wheelchair they need. In developing countries, an estimated 90% of children, teens, and adults who require a wheelchair are unable to acquire one. From the Heart, the Wheelchair Foundation’s schools program launched in 2012 by Don Routh, Josh Routh, and Bill Wheeler, introduces students in Tri-Valley schools firsthand to the enabling power of a wheelchair and connects them personally through letters and photographs to wheelchair recipients in Latin America whose lives have been positively impacted by their fundraising efforts. The gift of mobility spreads life-liberating benefits like ripples in a pond to family, friends, and caregivers multiplying the effect of each one delivered tenfold.

wcf_4thofjuly

Wheelchair Foundation From the Heart students are all smiles in Danville’s 4th of July parade. Photo courtesy of Wheelchair Foundation.

Raised during the Depression in a home with no hot water or central heat, Behring thought he knew what poverty was like until he began traveling to Africa in the 1990s. Taken to hospitals with inadequate medical supplies sometimes so overcrowded patients had to lie on the floor and schools that had no books and barely provided shelter, Behring responded by stocking his plane with human-itarian supplies each time he returned. In 1999, six wheelchairs destined for a hospital in Romania filled out the cargo of 15 tons of canned meat gathered by LDS Charities for delivery to refugees.

In Road to Purpose, Behring writes: “Little did I know that these six wheelchairs would alter the direction of my life.” One elderly stroke victim exclaimed after Ken helped settle him in his new wheelchair, “Now I can go outside in my yard and smoke with my neighbors.” Ken took to heart the lesson he learned that day. “I had previously seen wheelchairs as a form of confinement. I didn’t comprehend the liberation that one could bring to those who are unable to afford them.” Trips to Vietnam and Guatemala in early 2000 confirmed the enormous need and inspired Behring to address it. One Guatemalan girl only six or seven years old spent her days sitting in a box while her parents worked. Behring writes: “When we gave her a wheelchair, the mother was incredibly grateful. She told us that for the first time, her child would be able to move around the house. It would allow her to go to school and receive an education. No longer would she be confined to a box. She would have a future.”

Don Routh (L) and Josh Routh (R) with wheelchair recipient in Columbia paralyzed in a mining accident. Photo courtesy of Wheelchair Foundation.

An essential part of the message From the Heart brings to local schools is that wheel-chairs are a source of opportunity rather than limitation and that wheelchair users are enabled rather than disabled by their means of achieving mobility. Josh Routh takes the lead in demonstrating the point. Born with Cerebral Palsy, Josh is skilled at propelling his wheelchair in basketball competitions, to work, as a volunteer at School of the Imagination in Dublin, and throughout Latin America on Wheelchair Foundation distribution trips to remote villages with dad Don and amigo Bill.

Barbara Bosse gets a hug from wheelchair recipient in Columbia. Photo courtesy of Wheelchair Foundation.

Wheelchair Foundation Community Outreach Director Barbara Bosse partners with Josh at school assemblies.“I like to refer to Josh as my secret weapon,” she says. “He has a unique way of connecting with students and teachers alike. He demonstrates to students how he gets in and out of his wheelchair, how he can shoot hoops, and how he is also very comfortable answering all of their questions no matter how awkward they may seem. On one occasion, a little girl said, ‘I feel sorry for you.’ Josh replied, ‘Don’t feel sorry for me. I can do amazing things because I have this wheelchair.’” Schools interested in taking advantage of the program are encouraged to tailor it to their needs. Bosse explains, “As a teacher myself, I understand how difficult it is to ask teachers to add one more thing to their already full calendars. I like to impress upon prospective schools, ‘How can we make the program work for you?’ I emphasize the flexibility of our program and the many ways it can be tailored to fit each school’s needs.”

Black Tie Transportation founder Bill Wheeler donates delivery of wheelchairs to schools for students to experience what an hour or a day in a wheelchair is like. One middle school student wrote: “From this experience I learned that people treat you a whole lot different when you’re in a wheelchair. People treated me at two extremes. They either cared for me and did everything they absolutely could or they took advantage of me, used me as a racecar, or pushed me as fast as they could, even as I yelled for them to stop.”

Fundraising for wheelchair deliveries is included as an aspect of the program. Some teachers use the project to emphasize math. Others ask students to write to community organizations or visit them in person to hone their communication skills. The top fundraiser is Lydikesen School in Pleasanton. Strong supporters in SRVUSD include Tassajara Hills, Montair, Hidden Hills, Diablo Vista, Windermere Ranch, Pine Valley, Dougherty Valley High, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley High. Some teachers and students join the summer wheelchair delivery teams to Latin America. This July’s Columbia journey accomplished seven distributions in five days, including one home visit. Personal connections underscore their achievement for every educator and student involved in From the Heart. Bosse notes: “Students are asked to write letters in Spanish that are then given to each wheelchair recipient on a distribution trip. In return, the student receives a reply in the form of a handwritten letter from the person and/or the family receiving the gift of a wheelchair. The personal connec-tion between our students participating in letter writing and the recipients of the wheelchair helps demonstrate that a little effort on the student’s part makes a huge difference in the lives of others.”

This story was written by Josh Burroughs  Chair, Silicon Valley Chapter of the Wheelchair Foundation, Wheelchair Ambassador, Rotary Club of San Jose

Gandhi said it best: “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

I can’t think of a better way to describe the feelings felt on our immersive wheelchair distribution in Monterrey, Mexico, a joint venture between the Rotary District 5170 (Bay Area) and the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Wheelchair Foundation. 

Josh Burroughs Monterey Mexico

Josh and members of the Rotary Districts 5160, 5170, 7090 and 5730 in Monterey Mexico during the delivery of 560 wheelchairs.

I had the honor of serving on this mission trip delivering 560 wheelchairs and participating in hands on service projects with our local Rotarian partners.  This life changing experience (now my 8th wheelchair distribution to date) continues to affect me as a constant reminder of the many blessings we have here in the states, and our obligation to reach outside comfort zones to share our gifts of time, talent and treasure with others.

What was equally inspiring was the sheer generosity of our donors towards this project.  In less than 8 months, starting with a modest challenge grant from the Silicon Valley Chapter and Rotary 5170 District Governor Susan Valenta, the campaign caught on like wildfire throughout the Bay Area Rotary Clubs – a huge outpouring of support from individuals, businesses, and foundations.  The fundraising campaign culminated with a grand reception at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, where individual donors had a chance to meet Wheelchair Foundation founder, Ken Behring, who gave an inspiring speech in thanks for the continued support of Rotary International over the past 15 years.

Wheelchair recipients in Monterey MexicoThis tangible gift of mobility and its life changing impacts were sourced locally, and distributed globally, but the effects on the lives of the recipients can only be briefly documented through my experience delivering the chairs.  The true impact will be lifelong, and one in which entire family units are transformed.

Led by Rotary International Director Brad Howard, Rotary District 5170 Governor Susan Valenta, and District 5170 Governor Elect Jeff Orth, our 20 person team landed in Monterrey in April, 2016.  Building on a decade long partnership with the Monterrey Rotarians, the team divided into groups to serve the local communities. 

I personally participated in the renovation of the children’s library in Garcia, Nuevo Leon; swinging sledge hammers, painting, landscaping – the kids helped us out too, but they got more paint on themselves that on the walls! 

The primarily industrial city (think packaging and manufacturing of Mary Kay products, Kia Motors, etc) has an ever-increasing influx of migrants looking for work.  Very poor areas dealing with issues surrounding homelessness and housing juxtaposes an increased amount of new commercial development & construction in the downtown core.

Amid this changing landscape are the diverse stories of the individuals receiving mobility.  From children to adults, from birth defects to car accidents, the stories highlight the need for us to continue on this mission, and this is only the beginning!

Wheelchairs lined up for deliveryCheck back soon for a follow-up article on our 2nd Mission trip to Panama in October 2016 where we will be delivering another 560 wheelchairs in this Central American outpost.

…and Thank You again for all your support!

-Josh Burroughs

Chair, Silicon Valley Chapter of the Wheelchair Foundation

Wheelchair Ambassador, Rotary Club of San Jose

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