The Wheelchair Foundation, Changing the World One Wheelchair at a Time

Peace Through Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs, changing the world.
Wheelchairs, changing the world.
A burkha clad Afghan woman holds a US flag at a ceremony in Kabul on Monday. The ceremony was organised by the Wheelchair Foundation, a US-based NGO, to mark the donation of over 5000 wheelchairs to Afghanistan. — Reuters
A burkha clad Afghan woman holds a US flag at a ceremony in Kabul on Monday. The ceremony was organised by the Wheelchair Foundation, a US-based NGO, to mark the donation of over 5000 wheelchairs to Afghanistan. — Reuters

Kenneth E. Behring, Founder of Wheelchair Foundation

One man has made a difference in crossing the barriers of race, religion, and political diversity, by donating his time and money in an attempt to improve the quality of life for people, simply one person at a time.

That man is Kenneth E. Behring, founder of Wheelchair Foundation, humanitarian, and philanthropist.

Wheelchairs provide freedom for those who are not mobile.

"Most of us think of a wheelchair as a confinement, but to millions of people it is not confinement, it is freedom," stated Behring at the Brigham Young University graduation ceremony where he was the guest of honor.

Behring was given an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Christian Service from that university on August 15, 2002 and is still actively involved in providing humanitarian service to this day. Having never graduated from college himself, this honor is one that he doesn't take lightly.

Kenneth E. Behring founder of the Wheelchair Foundation

Kenneth E Behring in China

The foundation has donated 2,500 wheelchairs to the province, worth a total of US$130,000.
The foundation has donated 2,500 wheelchairs to the province, worth a total of US$130,000.

Behrings meager beginnings, taught him the value of work.

Growing up in poverty, Behring knew the feeling of going without. His father worked in a lumberyard, while his mother cleaned houses so that the family could survive. Starting to work at the age of seven, he came to understand the value of hard work. This ethic was what eventually led him to achieve the success that he has gained in the business world.

Behring finds success in giving.

Wheelchair foundation, charitable organization.
Wheelchair foundation, charitable organization.

Business success came in Behrings life through the power of investing.

Starting his career in the automobile dealership industry, Behring retired at age 27 and from there took up a career in real estate development.

Over the next 35 years he not only became very prosperous, but was influential in developing numerous planned communities in Florida and California, including the famous Blackhawk development near San Francisco.

Behring owner of Seattle Seahawks and major contributor to various charitible organizations.


In 1988 Behring purchased the Seattle Seahawks football team and shortly thereafter started the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation which benefits numerous children's charities.

His many accolades include: establishing the Blackhawk Museum, and the U.C. Berkeley Museum of Art, Science and Culture, starting the Behring-Hofmann Educational Institute benefiting the San Francisco Bay region, a $20 million dollar donation to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in 1997, and an $80 million dollar donation to rebuild the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in 2000.

He has served as president of the American Academy of Achievement, and served on both the board of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the University of Wisconsin Athletics. He not only has received his Honorary Doctorate from BYU, but the coveted James Smithson Award from the Smithsonian. He has been named Man of the Year by both the Boys Town of Italy and the Mount Diablo Hospital Foundation.

"Giving is not a duty, it is a joy." Behring

Wheelchair Foundation
Wheelchair Foundation

The Wheelchair Foundation, "The best thing I have ever done."

Understandably living the gamut from poverty to extreme wealth, one of the greatest realizations in his life was made after starting the Wheelchair Foundation. Behring explains, "When I was poor I didn't know what true poverty was, and when I became rich, I didn't know what true riches were." He further noted, "When I see the happiness in the faces of those who get a wheelchair, I feel that this is the best thing I have ever done."

All he could think about were wheelchairs.

Behring was asked by The Mormon Church to help transport goods...

Before the Wheelchair Foundation was established it was important for Behring to discover the need for the wheelchairs for himself.

In 2002 he explained, "It's really amazing how things work out, because I have a big airplane that flies the world at thirty thousand feet, I came into contact with people who see the world by crawling on their stomachs and elbows. I owe this blessing to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Although I am not a member of the church, about three years ago it asked me if I had room in my plane to drop off fifteen tons of canned meat for refugees in Kosovo. Then the church said, ‘And is there any chance that you might have a little extra room to drop off some wheel chairs in Romania?' I had never really thought about wheel chairs before, but after that trip I could think of little else."

Wheelchairs for Afghanistan

Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) Deputy Commander Colonel Fred Lewis shakes the hand of a doctor at Mir Weis Hospital in Kandahar City, as the hospital accepts a donation of wheelchairs from Wheelchair Foundation Canada (WFC).
Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) Deputy Commander Colonel Fred Lewis shakes the hand of a doctor at Mir Weis Hospital in Kandahar City, as the hospital accepts a donation of wheelchairs from Wheelchair Foundation Canada (WFC).

Wheelchair Foundation was born in 2000.

On June 13, 2000, Kenneth Behring's own birthday, he pledged 15 million dollars and launched the California based, Wheelchair Foundation which was established at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

Since that time he has delivered over 650,000 wheelchairs to citizens in 152 countries. His lofty goal was to provide one million wheel chairs to those in need by 2005, although the time limit has been exceeded the goal has not died.

Behring discovered, "I found out that in third world counties people who are immobile are discarded, they have no life, they have no hope, they have no future. They are put in the back of a little hut and given their meal a day, and for all purposes people just kind of wish they would fade away or die." He found that by restoring mobility it improved their lives instantly.

Wheelchair Foundation partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Wheelchair Foundation has some partners in charity.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, is a global partner with Wheelchair Foundation, having contributed over $5,000,000 to the organization. Along with the church, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of State have been sizeable contributors. The Rotary Clubs & Rotarians have also provided a large amount of support to the organization.

Wheelchairs Given In China

One hundred and thirty nine disabled people received wheelchairs ahead of the National Day of Disabled Persons.
One hundred and thirty nine disabled people received wheelchairs ahead of the National Day of Disabled Persons.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has implemented a Wheelchair Initiative

As a partner to the Wheelchair Foundation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has implemented the Wheelchair Initiative, this has also been influential in helping to provide more appropriate kinds of chairs, fitting the rural conditions that some of the recipients live in. It has been influential in emphasizing local production of some of the wheelchairs and the chance for the recipients to be involved.

"This aspect of the initiative has been designed so markets are not flooded with imported chairs, hurting the local economy. Supporting local factories also augments the repair options for the wheelchairs because local parts are more available and mending can take place more quickly."

The church explains, "In addition, local manufacturing and repair means jobs are available for disabled individuals. The Church currently buys from factories in Kenya and Vietnam, where wheelchair recipients are employed. A third factory employing wheelchair recipients will open in South Africa in June."

They further state, "Providing employment for people improves their ability to support and look after themselves as well as their family. They are also able to believe in themselves and make contributions they were not capable of before. It isn't really about the wheelchairs. It is about what the individuals want to do next. Do they want to get a job? Go to school? That is the impact of this initiative."

One Wheechair at a time, changing the world.

Help Change the World, One Wheelchair at a Time

Behring himself takes advantage of being able to personally deliver the wheelchairs to their recipients. He explains, "I wish you could meet the people I've met. They have taught me to use the word love much more freely than I would have ever thought possible."

The Wheelchair Foundation is in continual need of funds and support to further this great work. Grant monies that were a major source of their combinable funding have finally been exhausted. The expense that is rising because of increased fuel prices are making delivery and manufacturing more difficult. An estimated 60 million people in the world who need wheelchairs do not have one. Any help that they are offered is always welcome.

More by this Author


Comments 14 comments

starrwriter profile image

starrwriter 8 years ago from Cottage Grove, Wisconsin

Very good story. Thank you for sharing it.


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California Author

starrwriter,

Thanks for the positive comment. I loved the work that this foundation is doing, so felt compelled to share.


Chef Jeff profile image

Chef Jeff 8 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

Great hub, and thanks for the good info! My cousin Donald Tendick owned a company called Lamplighter - they made that oil you burn in Tiki lamps - scented oils and stuff like that. He and his wife worked hard to build the company from scratch. Their employees loved working there, and when Donald passed away, every employee, current and former, went to pay respects. Now that is a legacy worth living for!

Donald gave lots to charity, bought land and set it aside as parks for all people, and made the area west of Milwaukee area a better place before he went to God.

The power of one person, in the right place at the right time, can work miracles.

Thanks for the uplifting story and I hope others will be inspred to do what they can to help make this tired old world a better place.


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California Author

Jeff,

Thank you for you compliments on this Hub. I also wanted to tell you I appreciate your addition insights on giving. I too think that one person can make a world of difference! Although I do believe in miracles, I also think that miracles can occur at the hand of God through another. The power of one person is indeed great! Thanks again.


Bocadike 8 years ago

Thanks for the article. I knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had also been involved in this "Wheelchair" project. It is wonderful to see what can happen when good people get together tp help others.


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California Author

Bocadike,

I am glad you enjoyed reading it and learning about Kenneth Behring. It is amazing.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

In the Doghouse....you got out of the doghouse with this hub!! Very nice and it made me cry. With memories afloat constantly in my mind about my mother who was blind I am very sensitive to the disabled.

good work letting us know about the wheelchair foundation!!


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California Author

Marisue,

I too loved this topic, and cried my eyes out at the BYU graduation ceremony that Kenneth Behring was honored. I happened to stumble across it on the Internet, and when he told his story about how he became involved with the cause... I thought, this must be told. I love this foundation...it is incredible. I am happy to belong to a church that makes such a point of spreading kindness to others. Thanks for your comments.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

I always get touched and teary eyed whenever I read about people making a difference in the world. I salute all the "ripplemakers" who do this in little and big ways--spreading love, kindness and hope to those around them. Diana, thank you for writing this hub. It is very inspiring. And Oh, I love your title, changing the world one wheelchair at a time! :)


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California Author

Hi Michelle,

I loved the research of this Hub. I think that it is amazing how the Lord is mindful of all individuals. I am touched by the "one" person who has a different life because of a wheelchair, as much as I am touched by the life change experienced by Kenneth Behring by giving the chairs away. I think that is how the world becomes a better place...one person at a time, spreading good ripples. Thanks.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Diana, Yes! Thank you for pointing that one, the giver and the receiver are both blessed. As we too learn to give, so shall we learn to receive as well. Good morning! :)


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California Author

Michelle,

Well said! It is just as nice to give as it is to receive, all are blessed.


Y,H 6 years ago

Dears; how do you help thousands of wheelchair people in Iraq ,is there any way to make them happy .


wheelchairs 5 years ago

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

wheelchairs

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working