January 19, 2006 It is estimated that there are more than 100 million people in the world who need a wheelchair but cannot afford one. Mechanical engineer Don Schoendorfer had a secure, highly-paid job when he decided he could make a difference during his short stay on the planet, forsaking his job and embarking on a quest to help all those people. Don’s goal is to distribute 20 million of the pictured wheelchairs by the year 2010. Don set up the Free Wheelchair Mission in California in 2001 as non-profit organization committed to providing the gift of mobility to the physically disabled poor in developing countries and has just manufactured its 100,000th wheelchair. The central seat is a plastic garden chair – the use of existing parts enables the wheelchair to be manufactured in China, shipped in knockdown form via container, assembled and delivered to needy people all over the world for a total factory-to-field price of US$44.40. The Free Wheelchair Mission creatively partners with like-minded international humanitarian and indigenous organizations and it also accepts donations. Just think how much difference US$44.40 can make to the life of one human being.
Gizmo of the Week: the US$44.40 wheelchair
About the Author
Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks.All articles by Mike Hanlon