wheechair donations, reconditioning, overseas distribution and repair by faith and hope in Jesus

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It started in Guatemala — How our wheelchair distribution system began.

The concept of Wheels of Hope began in 1988 when Christian missionaries, Mark and Sandy Richard, saw a Mayan woman crawling across the Pan American Highway in the pouring rain. Mark and Sandy promised they would get her a wheelchair during their next trip to the United States. Two years later, Mark and Sandy returned with over fifteen wheelchairs and wheelchair parts for Macaria and others with disabilities in Guatemala.

Over the course of the next five years, Mark established a wheelchair refurbishing center near Alliance, Ohio, and continued distributing wheelchairs in Guatemala and Mexico. In 1993, Mark joined with Joni and Friends to direct the newly formed program, Wheels for the World. Joni and Friends quickly expanded the scope of distribution from Mark's base in Latin America to Ghana, Africa and Eastern Europe. In 1994, Mark moved the facility to its present location in Canton, Ohio. Then Mark left Ohio to establish a second Wheels for the World refurbishing center in Iowa, in conjunction with Hope Haven International Ministries (HHIM).

In January 1995, Joni and Friends hired a new Ohio supervisor for the Canton refurbishing center, Patrick Rimke. Patrick had volunteered for Mark since 1989 as a wheelchair seating technician to recondition wheelchairs in Alliance, and fit free wheelchairs to recipients in Guatemala. Growth in Ohio slowly continued until January of 1997, when Joni and Friends began a program to refurbish wheelchairs in western U.S. prisons, and ended its financial commitment to the Ohio facility.

However, due to the overwhelming support of its volunteers and donors, the facility was reopened in July 1997 as an independent organization under a new name: Wheels of Hope. Groups and individuals have continued to donate wheelchairs since that time, with Wheels of Hope distributing those wheelchairs and other mobility aids to the needy in developing countries where such mobility equipment is very hard to come by, especially for the poorest people.

Wheels of Hope was incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt non-profit in November 1997 and continues its work of wheelchair reconditioning, wheelchair repairs and distribution.

Wheels of Hope is always seeking those who have been touched with compassion for the needy and who desire to be involved in the ministry through financial or physical donations, prayer support and volunteerism.

 

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