Wheelchair Foundation

Chairs: Marc Leeka and Les Atchley

The Wheelchair Foundation is dedicated to providing mobility to every child, teen and adult lacking mobility, but unable to afford a wheelchair. In July of 2001, Richard King, President of Rotary international (2001-2002) invited Wheelchair Foundation founder Kenneth E. Behring to make a presentation to the Board of Directors of Rotary International, during which King proposed a worldwide strategic alliance with the Wheelchair Foundation. Behring stated that the Wheelchair Foundation would match any contribution made by Rotarians, reducing the normal $150 cost to deliver a wheelchair from $150 per chair to only $75. RI's Board unanimously approved the alliance, and later that year LA5 adopted the Wheelchair Foundation as a new Major Project.

During year 1 of our 3-year commitment, any member of the Rotary Club of Los Angeles who contributed $100 or more to the LA5 Community Service Fund had a wheelchair donated in their name. The result was a $72,000 donation to the Wheelchair Foundation in 2002, which was used to purchase and deliver 960 wheelchairs, including 240 chairs that were delivered to the Convalescent Aid Society in Pasadena, CA. The rest of the chairs went to recipients in other countries, including Angola, Uzbekistan, Turkey and elsewhere. LA5 member Marc Leeka and wife Pearl traveled to Angola to personally deliver the first container of wheelchairs.

In the second and third year of support, Project Chair Marc Leeka made presentations to every Rotary Club in District 5280, garnering widespread matching support. By the time year three was coming to a close, 5,360 wheelchairs valued at over $804,000 were sent to these countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Armenia
  • Croatia
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Lebanon
  • Madagascar
  • Mexico
  • Mozambique
  • Poland
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • United States

If you would like support this worthy endeavor, visit the Wheelchair Foundation's website.

rotarians distribute wheelchair

A group of LA5 members prepare wheelchairs for distribution in Baja. Clockwise from the bottom are President Janet Lindstrom, Pearl Leeks, Laura Thompson, Project Chairs Marc Leeka and Les Atchley.

les atchley helps girl

Les Atchley helps a girl from Mexico into her new wheelchair.

boy in wheel chair

A young man in Honduras celebrates his mobility with few friends. These all-terrain wheelchairs are designed for use on unpaved paths, with tires similar to mountain bikes.