Tocci donates nearly 800 wheelchairs to the needy through the World Vision and Free Wheel Chair Mission


black and white picture of an old man in a wheelchair

We know that there are men, women, and children throughout the world crippled by birth defects, disease, or accidents

We imagine that they move through their day, perhaps like someone we know, by wheelchair or prosthetic device. In reality, this isn’t the case. For over one hundred million poor, physically disabled people the options for mobility are limited to crawling or being carried — the benefit of medical invention beyond their financial reach. John Tocci was shocked by this realization but impressed that the charity, Free Wheelchair Mission, had undertaken the monumental task of righting this humiliatingly brutal situation.

The Free Wheelchair Mission

Don Schoendorfer, haunted by the 1977 memory of a crippled woman clawing her way along a Moroccan roadway, disdained even by beggars, set about to invent an affordable wheelchair that could be donated free to those unable to afford this humane luxury. A talented MIT-trained mechanical engineer, he spent a year, in his spare time, designing and building 100 affordable, durable, and easily manufactured wheelchairs based on plastic lawn chairs, bicycle wheels, and metal casters. Eventually, he partnered with his pastor to strategize the distribution of wheelchairs during a missionary trip to India. He was dismayed to find that the shipping costs made this dream nearly impossible. Don took four wheelchairs to India. The absolute joy expressed by the first recipient moved Don to donate his life to finding a way to make his “miracle” and the “miracle” of disabled, poverty-stricken people worldwide.

World Vision

In 2006 World Vision partnered with Free Wheelchair Mission to defray the considerable cost of shipping wheelchairs throughout the world. John, a long-standing patron of World Vision projects, leaped at the chance to assist World Vision to meet a goal of delivering 16,000 wheelchairs on behalf of the Free Wheelchair Mission. Tocci donated 795 wheelchairs, in the names of its 2006 project partners, during the Christmas season.

Tocci has a year-end tradition of making a meaningful donation, in the names of its clients and associates, to a select charity. Past recipients have included Habitat for Humanity International, World Vision Inc., the World Vision Appalachia Storehouse, and the World Vision New York City Storehouse.