Christopher Torres, an 11-year-old Florida boy diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, a neuro-genetic disorder that prevented him from walking, needed a wheelchair. But Christopher’s father could not afford to buy one and did not qualify for insurance assistance, so he built a wheelchair for his son out of a wooden kitchen chair.
Fortunately, on April 8, 2011, Christopher received a new, custom-built $8,600 wheelchair donated by the Darrel Gwynn Foundation, which gives brand-new manual and power wheelchairs to children and adults who are permanently disabled and do not have insurance coverage.
The foundation was created in 2002 by Darrel Gwynn, a former professional drag racer, who is no stranger to the wheelchair. In 1990, at the peak of his career, during an exhibition race in England, his vehicle crashed into a retaining wall at about 240 mph. He lost his left arm and was paralyzed from the chest down.
“I was very fortunate to win a lot of races in my day, but now they seem insignificant compared to the race to help others through the Darrel Gwynn Foundation,” he says.
While there are many organizations that recycle used wheelchairs, DGF is unusual in that all its wheelchairs are new, high-tech and highly customized. DGF donates 35 to 50 wheelchairs, valued from $6,000 to $40,000, every year to individuals who meet the wheelchair donation program criteria.
Along with its wheelchair donation program, the foundation also has a spinal cord injury education and prevention program to raise awareness about SCI.
To learn more about the Darrel Gwynn Foundation, click on the video below:
If you have a story about a wheelchair donation that made a difference, please comment below: