Our Continuing Efforts to Help Haiti

A young girl recovers in a wheelchair from the Wheelchair Foundation.

January 20th of 2011 marked the one year anniversary of Wheelchair Foundation’s Plane to Haiti relief flight. The opportunity to join among the world’s first responders to the catastrophic Haitian Earthquake, and to be granted permission to land our two plane loads of medical aid, doctors and nurses, is a testament to the work of Global Health and Education Foundation and all of its’ assets. As quickly as Haiti’s tragedy came to the public eye it soon faded, as other world news took precedence.

Just this week, a little over a year and two weeks following the earthquake, we received word from our partners that nearly all 2,600 wheelchairs we have sent to the people of Haiti have been spread across that country. With the help of CARITAS, the HHS Foundation of the Dominican Republic, Rotarians, The Carlos Slim Foundation and
CODETEL, our wheelchairs have reached Port au Prince, Cayes, Jacmel, Cap-Haitien, Fort Liberte, Jermine, Hinche, Port de Paix, Anse a Veau et Miragoane, and Gonaives.

Our efforts to assist the disabled in Haiti will continue, with 800 wheelchairs sponsored by Rotarians staged in Miami, Florida, awaiting transport to Haiti. We will continue to help, as long as there is a need.

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A LOOK BACK – East Bay Foundation Gives the Gift of Mobility

KGO-TV/DT – Written and produced by Ken Miguel, March 15, 2010.

A wheelchair can mean the difference between being bed-ridden or leading a productive life. But in many parts of the world, cost keeps them out of the hands of people who need them. One East Bay charity is hoping to make a difference two wheels at a time.

On the island of San Pedro in Belize, artist Kurt Jason Cruz was attacked in 2006. It left him completely paralyzed.

“I got stabbed in my lower back and neck and was paralyzed for four months and I couldn’t even move from neck down,” he said.

He has regained some mobility, and can now get around thanks to the Danville-based Wheelchair Foundation. The non-profit has given away hundreds of thousands of wheelchairs over the past decade to people in need all over the world. The idea began with developer Ken Behring. Now his sons have taken up the cause.

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Riding On Hope

An elderly Haitian man lies in pain on a cot in a dark, wooden shack with no electricity or running water in a rural area near the Haiti-Dominican Republic border.

The 100-pound earthquake survivor, Jean, is unable to walk — a virtual prisoner in the shack.

As he is peeled from the sheets, he moans quietly. He is placed in his new wheelchair and taken outside. He looks to the sky, lets out a gasp and fills his lungs with fresh air.

I’m the Daily Toreador photo editor. Last week, I was supposed to be in class finishing up my degree. Instead, I found myself in the Dominican Republic, distributing wheelchairs to Haitian earthquake survivors who desperately needed them.

My parents invited me on this humanitarian trip that was a joint project of Rotary International and The Wheelchair Foundation. Our mission was simple: eradicate immobility. Our nine-member group, accompanied by three Dominican relief workers, spent three days delivering 70 wheelchairs, free of charge, to earthquake victims in villages, hospitals and clinics throughout the Dominican Republic.

We all take our legs, our mobility, for granted. But for people without the use of their legs, wheelchairs have an enormous impact on their lives. It gives people back their independence. Children can go back to school, adults can go to work, and the elderly can get out of their homes and have some social interaction. It also alleviates the burden on family members who otherwise would have to carry the person around.

For perspective’s sake, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake tore through Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 12. It killed 250,000 people, injured countless thousands and left about 1.5 million homeless. Some of the catastrophic damage can be blamed on poor or nonexistent building codes. Many displaced Haitians took refuge with family and friends in the neighboring Dominican Republic. The Dominican hospitals, clinics and orphanages are filled with Haitian earthquake survivors.

Austin-area Rotary clubs raised enough money to purchase 560 wheelchairs. Each chair costs $150 and comes in everyone’s favorite colors: red and black.

I was supposed to chronicle the trip with photographs. But the first time I saw a child with a missing leg whose face lit up when he was placed in a wheelchair, I knew I had to put down the camera and be an active participant.

I took some pictures. But now that I’m back in our world on the Tech campus, I’d like to share a few of the many stories I heard and saw as our group hand delivered wheelchairs.

Michelle was lying in bed at a clinic in Santo Domingo, gripping her college-aged daughter’s hand. Before the earthquake, she was a kindergarten teacher and homemaker in Haiti. The earthquake destroyed her two-story home. Her children escaped with minor injuries. Michelle, who was with her sister on the first floor during the quake, had her left leg crushed; the bone protruded from both sides. Her sister died in her arms as they waited to be rescued.

Michelle was full of hope because she could now move her toes. The wheelchair we provided will allow her to continue physical therapy. If she shows promise, there is a chance she will go to Atlanta to learn to walk again.

At a hospital in Santo Domingo, my parents decided the mood was a little damp. My father conducted a wheelchair race. The halls filled with sounds of screeching tires and laughter.

My mother danced with an amputee in one of the wheelchairs. She wanted to show her that she could have a normal life. They twirled around the hospital room, patients and doctors cheered and laughed. “Dancing with the Stars,” beware.

Our original plans had us distributing wheelchairs in Haiti, but the Haitian government recently closed the border to undocumented vehicles. Miles of trucks filled with expired food and medicine lined the boarder, unable to reach the earthquake-ravaged people. We continued into Haiti on foot, weaving through hundreds of islanders carrying supplies and food on their heads and in wheelbarrows. I wonder what they thought of nine camera-wielding Americans slathering sunscreen on their pale faces.

The border trip was not a waste, however. One of our guides, Hector, obtained the proper documentation to bring hundreds of wheelchairs to Haiti. According to Hector, it is paramount that each chair be hand delivered. It is the only way to guarantee each chair goes to a person in need.

Our group had adventures away from the villages, hospitals and clinics as well. We ate fresh watermelon and coconuts at roadside stands, saw an overturned 18-wheeler, and were temporarily stranded by a roadblock of burning brush and tires.

It will take years, perhaps decades, to rebuild Haiti. But for now, I can smile knowing that Jean, Michelle and 68 other earthquake victims have hope to rebuild their lives.

SOURCE: Daily Toreader

Rock N Rev Tickets Sale

The legendary Rock N’ Rev Festival takes place this summer and Godsmack’s going to be there for the party! The band will perform on August 9, at the Glencoe Campgrounds in Sturgis, SD, and for a limited time, the Store is selling general admission tickets for $10 off the regular price!  

This is a members-only sale so if you’re already a member, just sign into your account to purchase tickets. Still not a member? Then create an account now!

Single Day Godsmack Passes and 5-Day VIP Rock N’ Rev Festival Passes can also be purchased through the Store. These include access to the VIP bars, private luxury bathrooms and more! For full details on the Rock N’ Rev passes, head over to the ticket page. As an added incentive, feel good knowing that 20% of all the ticket sales will be donated to the Haiti Relief fund.

It’s always a guaranteed good time at the Rock N’ Rev Festival and with Godsmack on the bill what more could you ask for?


Hale students raise money for Haiti

Hale students raise money for Haiti. After the earthquake in Haiti, Hale Elementary students raided their piggybanks, collecting about $3,000, but that pool now has grown to a total of nearly $50,000. Parent Diana Anderson told others about the students’ fundraiser, which inspired them to donate money and materials. A matching grant of about $24,000 from the Wheelchair Foundation means more than 300 wheelchairs will go to the disabled in Haiti. If you would like to donate, the foundation will match any contribution of $75. Information:

– Ray Parker, The Republic/

William Scarano 11

Jacob Boyette 11

Amanda Booth 11

Annelyse Caffrey 12

Amanda Page 10 “It feels great to donate the change lying around the house, which is what I did and got almost $57.”  “I like best that you’re helping someone out.”  “We decorated boxes for all the classes and everybody got involved, including my dad, who gave me a jar full of change.”  “I babysit a lot, so I could have bought a new necklace, but gave it to Haiti. It’s sad they have to spend their life like that.”  “To think that our change could help someone so far away from here is great.”


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