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
American Highway in the pouring rain. Mark and Sandy promised they
would get her a wheelchair during their next trip to the United States.
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
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
in western U.S. prisons, and ended its financial commitment to the
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
Wheels of Hope was incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt non-profit
in November 1997 and continues its work of wheelchair reconditioning,
repairs and distribution.
Wheels of Hope is always seeking those who have been touched
needy and who desire to be involved in the ministry through financial
physical donations, prayer support and volunteerism.
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Copyright 2012 by Wheels of Hope: wheelchair donations,
wheelchair repairs & reconditioning, and overseas mobility distribution