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This story is borrowed and republished in full courtesy of The Independent. The original article can be read by clicking here.

Nine members of the Rotary Club of Pleasanton embarked on a service trip to Tulancingo, Mexico (Pleasanton’s Sister City) on October 16th to distribute 280 wheelchairs to the elderly and disabled. The trip is the culmination of an annual effort by the club to find a partnering city in need, raise funds, purchase and deliver a container of wheelchairs, and participate in their distribution. This year the Club selected Tulancingo as the recipient city and partnered with a Rotary Club in that city and Mexico’s National System for Integral Family Development (DIF) to make the program happen.

54810d65107a8.imageThe distribution took place at the town square of Tulancingo. The recipients were preselected by DIF. The event was well attended by both local residents and local government officials. Nancy Pennell, chairperson of the Club’s Wheelchair Committee, has been on several distribution trips. “The recipients of these wheelchairs are so varied. Men, women and children of all ages are in need. On this distribution ages ranged from 4 years old to a woman who was 104. They both cried when they received their wheelchairs. We cried with them. Participating in these distributions is an experience no one will ever forget. It is humbling, rewarding and life changing. A wheelchair not only changes the life of the recipient, but of their entire family as well.”

The Rotary Club of Pleasanton started its Wheelchair Project in 2003 at the urging of member Bob Athenour, who is also the founder of the Pleasanton/Tulancingo Sister City partnership. Since 2003, the Club in conjunction with the Wheelchair Foundation of Blackhawk and the Rotary Clubs in the recipient cities have delivered and distributed 4275 wheelchairs on 18 different trips to Latin America. The Club raises funds for the project through its annual Father’s Day Spirit Run, an annual estate sale in February, and contributions from its members and private donors. It plans to deliver another 280 wheelchairs in 2015 to Panama.

A container of 280 wheelchairs costs $42,000 ($150.00 per chair). The club generally covers half of that; matching funds from the receiving country’s clubs and governmental agencies generally cover the remaining. All travel costs are paid separately by the Rotary Club’s members.

Pennell adds, “The Rotary Club of Pleasanton asks that you consider donating a wheelchair in memory of or in honor of someone near and dear to you. Give the gift of mobility this Holiday Season. Donations in any amount are appreciated.”

Contact the Rotary Club of Pleasanton for more information: Rotary Club of Pleasanton Wheelchair Project, c/o Dick Stafford, P.O. Box 352, Pleasanton, CA 94566; Email: grs414@hotmail.com; phone: 925-351-8860.