Area organization recycles wheelchairs for others in need

Lee's Summit, Mo. - An old wheelchair sitting in a basement, back closet or neighbor's garage can give the gift of mobility to a disabled person half a world away.

Laura and Randy Horn started Wheels to Freedom 15 years ago when they heard about Hope Haven International Ministries in Iowa. The organization refurbishes old wheelchairs and mobility devices and then ships them to underdeveloped countries.

"Over the past several years we've shipped over four-thousand wheelchairs out of Lee's Summit," said Randy. "In Vietnam the average salary is $2,000 a year. So it would be as if you or I needed a chair and it would set us back $30,000. That's how unattainable they are. "

Along with dozens of volunteers, the Horns collect wheelchairs donated by individuals, nursing homes or assisted living centers. They store them at Colbern Road Baptist Church in Lee's Summit until a volunteer with Hope Haven can pick them up.

The couple even traveled to Vietnam to see their work first-hand. Laura said, "Many of the people were really, really thankful and just kind of awed that people could come from another country and help. "

It's a small effort that winds up making a big difference in peoples' lives.

Laura and Randy collect wheelchairs all year long. If you have a mobility device you would like to donate, go to  http://www.wheelstofreedom.org or hopehaven.org .

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