Local group fundraising to send 36,000 wheelchairs abroad

A local group is teaming up with a national nonprofit to provide thousands of wheelchairs to people in need all over the world.

BOISE - A local group is teaming up with a national nonprofit to provide thousands of wheelchairs to people in need all over the world.

So far Idaho Believes has been able to provide more than 18,000 chairs and they're working to send at least 36,000 abroad.

“That's one chair for every seat in Albertson's Stadium," said George Hage, founder of Idaho Believes.   

All of those chairs are just from Idaho. The nonprofit, Free Wheelchair Mission, as a whole has provided more than a million wheelchairs to people all over the world.

Hage, an occupational therapist at St. Luke’s, brought this program to the state. He wanted to help people with disabilities in other countries, so he did some research and found the Free Wheelchair Mission. They create low-cost wheelchairs and give them to those in need.

"We give the wheelchairs to give them back hope and give them back dignity," said Mike Higa, with the Free Wheelchair Mission.

RELATED: Boise family's 1,200 mile bike trek aims to provide wheelchairs for those in need

“It helps them really go on emotionally and be a part of society again," added Hage.  

The wheelchairs have been donated to people in 93 different countries. One of those wheelchairs went to Gregory Grizzle from Jamaica, who was paralyzed in a work accident.

"It has been the worst experience of my life,” Grizzle said. “It took me through a phase where at one point I didn’t feel like I wanted to go on."

For Grizzle, the wheelchair he got from Free Wheelchair Mission is a blessing.  

"I appreciate the simpler things," he said. "Like the opportunity because it's not an entitlement it's a privilege we have." 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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