GReetings from your friends at Chair the Love.
There is so much to be thankful for this year and to look forward to in 2023!
One immense blessing we’ve experienced this year is Covid travel restrictions began to subside and allowed us to travel and distribute wheelchairs, our greatest joy. Thanks to your faithfulness, not even a pandemic could slow our desire to restore the right of mobility to those unable to move under their own power. This year, we will have completed eight distributions, totaling over 2000 wheelchairs given to those who need it most!
Early in 2022, a container of 260 chairs was sent just a few hundred miles off the coast of Florida to the Bahamas. Recently ravaged by hurricanes, their need for wheelchairs was acute. Since travel restrictions were in effect, we had to settle for photos sent by our Rotarian partners from the Island. We never dreamed that a few months later, Prince William would visit a charity on the island and be photographed pushing a young man in a CTL chair!
In March, April and September, we traveled to Mexico to give away nearly 750 chairs. Most of our distributions have side trips to explore the local culture and scenery…
…Our Mexican friends insisted that we take in a premier league fútbol (soccer) game in the beautiful new Chivas stadium. We enjoyed watching a spirited game with a zero-zero score and learning new Spanish chants and songs.
In Salamanca, Mexico we were touched by a dance performance by a young man in a wheelchair with his partner dressed in native garb. Their schoolteacher told us they had been practicing for over three months, waiting for our arrival. We were blessed to tour the city of San Miguel de Allende with our container club donors, including Brad and Jen Sumrok from Dallas, and Augie and Audrey Byllott.
The need for more chairs in Puerto Vallarta, MX was overwhelming, so we coordinated with a local wheelchair distributor and extended our trip. We also added two special friends to the Chair the Love team, Jana and Jason Shelfer. Jana has used a wheelchair for over 33 years, and she and her husband were overjoyed to be part of their first distribution. There is a unique connection when a chair is given by someone also in a wheelchair. It shows the recipient that having a chair can change your whole life for the better.
In October, we had the unique privilege of delivering a container of 260 chairs to Costa Rica and another container to Peru.
In Peru, we had the additional privilege of visiting Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, but not before two breathtaking distributions on the outskirts of Lima, both on soccer fields. What made this trip unique is that the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists sponsored an entire container and used the 8-day trip as a mission retreat for their leaders. Each traveler returned with great stories, but most touching were the notes they received from each recipient. Here is one translated: “Thank you and God bless you for my new chair. I have been waiting 15 years for a wheelchair and now I can go to church with my family. Never stop this work of God.”
In December, we will travel to Mexico, this time to Oaxaca – with yet another container from the Sumrok team.
Yes, eight distributions and over 1200 wheelchairs will be delivered in 2022, changing the lives of more than 12,000 recipients, caregivers, and family members. While this is record-setting for Chair the Love, it represents only a tiny start compared to the 100 million wheelchairs needed by people worldwide who cannot afford one.
With global inflation and rising shipping costs, chairs have increased from $150 to $200 each, but our determination to see them delivered to those who need them most is unwavering. We hope that you understand the change in wheelchair prices and continue to support us in our cause to bring mobility and independence worldwide.
Join CTL this giving season to make it possible to continue to bring love and hope to so many.
Perhaps you can also attend a future distribution in 2023 – check our site for upcoming trips to Trinidad-Tobago, Nicaragua, Kenya, the Philippines, and more.
Above all, thank you for your support and love,
Chair the Love