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

This article is reproduced in full via News 24 in South Africa. The original post can be viewed by clicking here.

Photo: tania sandberg Albert Tamontino was the recipient of a new wheelchair on Monday. At the handover (back, from left) Gail (daughter), Erwin Vermaak (dealer principal), Carol Matthews (marketing executive) and Travis Clarke (sales manager).

ALBERT Tamontino was the happy recipient of a new wheelchair on Monday as part of motor dealership Mark White Nissan’s “Change your Wheels, Change a Life” campaign.

Tramontino turned 87 on 29 July, and says the chair is a wonderful birthday gift. He has severe Dementia Alzheimers, heart valve problems, peripheral neuropathy, meaning he has little feeling in his legs, and blood-flow problems.

His daughter Gail, who takes care of him, says the wheelchair will change their lives tremendously as she wants to take him on outings and the wheelchair will give her the freedom to do so.

“He is my only family and has been staying with me for 10 years, since my mother passed away. The blood-flow problem makes it difficult for him to move his legs and he also battles with balance,” Gail says.

She says her dad is a kind, loving person. “He is one of a kind, when they made him, they broke the mould.”

Mark White Nissan launched the first campaign in April whereby for each vehicle bought in the dealership, a portion goes to the wheelchair foundation. A wheelchair is purchased and handed over to a person/s within the community in need.

“We proud of the fact that our dealership is the only dealership in South Africa that has this campaign. We are even prouder that one month after launching the campaign we handed over our first wheelchair,” said Carol Matthews, Mark White Nissan, marketing executive and organiser of the campaign and the wish list said. This is their third handover.

“If anyone needs one, please send me the names, or if you know of someone who has an old one, and it is time for an upgrade. All names are put onto our wish list.”

If anyone needs one, please send me the names, or if you know of someone who has an old one, and it is time for an upgrade.




Dear Friends,

We take Mobility for granted – a basic right that so many have never experienced. I’ll bet you have no idea that over a hundred million people worldwide lack mobility. Without a wheelchair, their options are limited in ways beyond our comprehension. Because of your exceedingly generous donations since June of 2000, Wheelchair Foundation, the world’s largest wheelchair relief organization, has delivered nearly 980,000 wheelchairs in 150+ countries. This holiday season, please continue to Give The Gift of Mobility to others who, without a wheelchair, are having to crawl or be carried everywhere they go. Changing lives is an amazing way to celebrate!

Don Routh, one of Wheelchair Foundaition’s extraordinary volunteers, fully understands the importance of mobility. His son Josh lost the ability to move on his own at the age of one. With extensive therapy, hard work and a wheelchair, Josh is now independent and travels with his father around the world helping other people gain Mobility (like five year old Joshua from Paraguay who is pictured on the the front of our website). Don & Josh continue to provide encouragement and hope to parents who are dedicating their lives to raising children with disabilities.

Choose to provide Mobility 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.

Your Gift of Mobility moves everyone involved and represents the true meaning of the season. You will delight your loved ones and at the same time bring unbelievable joy to recipients and their families – and will be remembered long after the holiday season has come and gone.

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

With your gift of $100 or more, we will send you a blue or black 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 plush micro – mink sherpa blanket.

No shopping, wrapping or shipping! Simply call us directly at 877.378.3839 or donate on line right here on our website www.wheelchairfoundation.org. 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 Give The Gift of Mobility. Thank you for your generous support of those who are less fortunate than we are.

Happy Holidays!


David E. Behring


We received this letter from Emile Meylan, the father of Mariela Meylan, a US Veteran that was injured while serving over seas.

Mariela on graduation day from the US Army.

Mariela on graduation day from the US Army.

My daughter, Mariela, served in the U.S. Military.  She was stationed in Kuwait and was injured in an auto accident while on patrol.  On December 19th, 2004, she and three other soldiers were changing a flat tire on their truck on the side of the road, when their vehicle was hit by a passing motorist.  

The hit-and-run driver fled the scene.  Two of the soldiers that were with her were killed.  My daughter was so severely injured in the accident that she was transferred from Kuwait, to Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany.    My wife, our Son-in-Law and I all traveled to Germany to be with her.  When we arrived on Christmas Day, Mariela was in a coma.

Due to the severity of her injuries, on December 26th she was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.  We were invited to fly home with her aboard an Air Evac C141 Flying Hospital plane, along with fifty other soldiers injured in Iraq.  Some were missing limbs, others, like Mariela, were non-responsive.

Mariela in her new sports wheelchair.

Mariela in her new sports wheelchair.

Mariela spent nearly eight months in a coma.  She stayed two years at Walter Reed Medical Center, and was then transferred to the Veteran’s Hospital in Livermore, California, where she would spend another year.  After a year in Livermore’s facility she was allowed tom come home with us. 

Here prognosis was that she would never wake up from her coma, but she did!  It was also thought that she would never regain her ability to walk, but she did!

All of this, we have, thanks to people like Mark Williams, and Matt Beinke and the Wheelchair Foundation. 

Thank you,

Emile Meylan

Thank you Emile for sending us this letter and the pictures of Mariela and THANK YOU Mariela for your service to our country.

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.”