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Volunteers go the extra mile

Left to right: Tim Abramides, John-the-driver, Jon Walters, Jim Trautman and John Reed.

We are posting to broadcast our heartfelt thanks to the efforts of our Wednesday volunteers who stayed on an extra three hours (after their normal 9-3 day) to load a 40’ container to Guatemala. We also appreciate that the driver lent a hand. Often, a scheduled container loading does not go according to schedule. We are very blessed when those who volunteer to load stay on and go the extra mile!

This container is destined for the Vine International Bodega in Guatemala city (managed by Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon) and Hospital Shalom in the Petán region (a project headed by Tim Spurrier). Thanks also to Vine International financial donor Carol Cruze, who covered the cost of shipping life-changing humanitarian equipment to those in need.

We also want to give a huge shout out for the large donations of wheelchairs, walking aids and other medical equipment that came just in the nick of time for our volunteers to recondition for this shipment. Many thanks to equipment donors MedWish and Little Sisters of the Poor, both in Cleveland.

Persons with disabilities in Guatemala will be transformed by mobility and a tangible demonstration of the love of Jesus for all mankind.

As we wind down our second year of work on the many years’ worth of donations in need of major rebuilding and repair work, we want to give a huge shout-out to our faithful volunteers who spend one day of every week working miracles, all year long.

The Tuesday crew has two Jims, George, Rick, Larry, Frank and Loren. The Wednesday team is two Johns and a Jon, a Jim, and Dan. These are the guys that keep Wheels rolling. Patrick stresses that his work in the warehouse is only a small part of the Wheels of Hope mission.

A typical Tuesday or Wednesday begins at 9am with fellowship and devotions. Work begins at 10 with Patrick providing chairs and needed parts and fielding questions about how to fix or modify them to make them usable, sometimes interchanging parts from one brand chair to another. Volunteers put in about 5 hours of TLC each, finishing up around 3pm.

An average wheelchair now takes two days to disassemble, repair and re- build, so the Tuesday guys often leave wheelchairs for the Wednesday guys to finish up and visa versa.

Patrick works to keep a collection of parts to choose from: side frame pieces, caster housings, etc. An example is a valuable tilt-in-space chair that needs a way to mount the rear wheels. We also have a number of extra-wide chairs that we modify by narrowing the seating to t a slender person who does not have access to the typical American diet!

Patrick relates that the volunteers are, in some cases “miracle workers. They take things in really rough condition: dirty, dusty and sometimes rusty. (Some of these chairs have been lurking in dark warehouse corners since 1998.) With TLC, these miracle workers first dismantle the chair of wheels, casters, armrests, etc. then clean the chair and detachable parts so they look good, and can be closely examined for problems like a bent castor fork or wobbly wheel. They lubricate the bearings so they function properly, and best of all, put all the parts back together to create a blessing.”


Another team of miracle workers, Frank and Rick, have spent the last year repairing a mountain of rollators that Patrick had sorted for scrap metal. Rick spends his day at the pile, dismantling the rollators and determining whether the parts are usable. Then sorts them into piles. Frank takes the parts from those piles and rebuilds rollators to make them work. Sometimes he even is able to bolt broken frames together. The result, a functional piece of equipment that enables a frail person to keep moving.

Loren and Larry are the boxing and shipping team. Larry also searches out the right leg-rests to go with the wheelchairs being boxed. Patrick then, stages the boxed chairs and makes inventories for each shipment.


Volunteers are at the heart of making Wheels work. Without their consistent and faithful labors, Wheels would remain a warehouse full of broken and rusted pieces like Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones. Volunteers are the breath of God that puts those bones together to make a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities all over the world!

Total volunteer hours for the year: almost 3000! — with one 45’ container sent to Thailand and equipment for one 40’ container staged for Guatemala.

We look forward to what the God has in store for next year. We will continue to work on the more needy donations from past years, as well as new donations. Hopefully, rules will change to make it easier for manufacturers to make donations again. For a deeper look at the regulations affecting donations to all medical missions, go to


americans under foot

“Americans Under Foot” illustration © Lynda Rimke

I was once locked inside a majority-world prison when a riot broke out. Fortunately, the prisoners were only running in every direction looking for tin plates, and snapped into a compressed line before us, a humanitarian aid group providing malnourished men with an afternoon meal.

Later, I watched with back to wall and crawling skin while a rubber-gloved doctor in our group rubbed medication on a prisoner’s head and yelled “Look at ’em jump!” merely referring to the hundreds of lice fleeing chemical extermination.

I can’t imagine what Saeed Abedini is going through right now. We know he is suffering internal bleeding from beatings he received from Iranian prison guards months ago, possible sepsis, weight loss from hunger and threat of death from inmates on the loose with knives. And lice.

His crime? Starting an orphanage with his father in Iran, a humanitarian-aid mission not unlike my own that day in jail. Meanwhile, the perpetrators who are treating him worse than a middle eastern dog get an $8 billion meal ticket.

While U.S. diplomacy handed out Iranian goodies from Santa’s bag, Saeed was transferred by the Iranian government from Evin Prison to an even more notorious prison that houses not merely political offenders, but rapists and murderers on death-row. It matters not that Saeed is a loving father and faithful husband, with his family bereft of Christmas in Idaho. Iran is treating him like vermin.

Moreover, Saeed is not alone. He is one of three U.S. citizens suffering in Iran. Saeed is only Iran’s most recent victim, arrested in July 2012. Amir Hekmati has been detained since August 2011, and Robert Levinson has not been heard from since he was apprehended in March of 2007.

In 2013 North Korea joined in axis-of-evil kidnapping, nabbing and consigning Korean-American tour-guide Kenneth Bae to a hard-labor camp and arresting and brainwashing 85 year old Army veteran Merrill Newman these last few weeks. Neither men have hope of release.

In 1961, during the Cold War, John F. Kennedy addressed the Canadian Parliament, saying “At the conference table and in the minds of men, the free world’s cause is strengthened because it is just. But it is strengthened even more by the dedicated efforts of free men and free nations. As the great parliamentarian Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.'”[1]

How will freedom’s just cause fare when five of our own citizens, good men all, continue to be ground to despair under the Obama diplomacy bus? Saeed Abedini has internal injuries from Iranian beatings [2] with no hope for the surgical intervention he desperately needs. The prison guards at Rajai Shahr have with-held the medication for internal bleeding that Saeed was given at Evin Prison.[3] The wheels of unilateral peace negotiations, apart from any meaningful bargaining for his release, are literally flattening him.

This is a terrible and atrocious irony: an ephemeral cerebral “peace” at the expense of fundamental human rights. I can only hope future negotiation efforts are of the level of dedication John F. Kennedy envisioned, where abject evil is plainly addressed and dealt with.

Increase sanctions with Iran and North Korea until our men return home. That is the least we can do.

Lynda Rimke
Board of Directors
Wheels of Hope

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It’s nice to be found, especially when someone in Northeast Ohio is looking to donate their son’s gently used equipment to a good cause.

This year, Ellery’s mom Cheryl found us when conducting an internet search for “wheelchair donations” using Google. Kudos to Daiv, our volunteer SEO (Search Engine Optimization) guru, who has made it easier for families searching to give!


Pictured are Patrick Rimke, Director of Operations, Ellery’s dad Lowell and Cheryl, posing with Ellery’s tilt-in-space wheelchair, car seat and stander that he used to use in physical therapy. Not pictured is Ellery, the star of the show, who was sound asleep in his car seat inside the van.

This fall, Ellery’s equipment was shipped to the Wheelchair Project in Chaing Mai, Thailand, which is based in a children’s rehabilitation hospital (Rajanagarindra Institute of Child Development or RICD for short.) You can learn more about this valuable program that Wheels of Hope helped to establish in 2001-2007 here:

We are awaiting photos from that shipment from our Thailand Director, Luc. Perhaps soon we will see the new owner of Ellery’s very special chair!

From our Thailand Director, September 12 2012

We just came back from our first distribution outside Thailand as the RICD Wheelchair Project. We had a very nice distribution in Luang Prabang in Laos! In Laos there is also a very high need for mobility aid… So our team left Thailand on Wednesday the 5th and arrived in Luang Prabang on Thursday midnight.

Chai Mai to Luang Prabang

The Road from Chai Mai to Luang Prabang

The roads were very rough as we had to go through an area where there was actually no road… only dust, mud, stones and this for a distance of about 250 km! But our team had a safe trip. Last Sunday we had the distribution at the Hospital in Luang Prabang: 43 wheelchairs were distributed. The team came back to Thailand on Tuesday evening safely.

On Monday morning Dr. Samai and I left Luang Prabang for Bangkok. In the afternoon our project received a special award out of the hands of HRH Princess Soamsawali.  That was a very big honor as our wheelchair project was chosen together with two other projects out of 1,000 projects.

For the moment, the number of wheelchairs is going down very fast as fittings are done on daily base. Today the warehouse was actually closed as all volunteers are resting after the distribution in Laos but still two patients were fitted in a new wheelchair. We are also starting to plan for possible distributions in Chiang Dao, Rayong, Mae Hong Son and Pattani.

As you mentioned that it would be possible to have another container shipment. We are so happy to go for this. Whenever you are ready for this new shipment, please let us know and we can contact our sponsor in Bangkok to start with the necessary procedure. Again thanks so much for all the beautiful equipment we could already receive from you!
Many greetings and take care!


We are working with Luc to ship another 40′ container of hope in November: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” — Romans 5:5

Friendship Alliance Youth recycle at the warehouse

Ten youth from Friendship Alliance Church in Auburn, Ohio came and worked in our recycle section on May 19 as part of a weekend event to explore and identify with those in need.

After sleeping over in tents back at the church, these hard workers skipped breakfast and lunch and worked our recycle piles of broken steel and aluminum rollators, diminishing them into neat containers of reusable parts and recyclable metals.

Over 50 rollators were recycled! These youths worked fast and made their fasting work!

Juice fast, check. Water fast, check … cleaner?

Mike Mager and his wife Nicole are both Physical Therapists and youth group leaders, and learned about the ministry of Wheels of Hope through Hattie Larlham Foundation, where Wheels of Hope collects wheelchairs and equipment no longer needed by their patients.

Mike Mager pulls apart a rollator.

Half the youth worked with Mike in the workshop, taking apart the aluminum rollators.

Sam and Morgan part out  a broken rollator.

Mike J. works on a reusable wheel.

While the other half tackled the steel rollators out on the warehouse floor disassembling in “Majority World” style.

Claire, Kelly, Bren and David get down and work hard!

… while Emily-the-industrious supervises the gang to bring order out of chaos!

After enough frames were stripped, the group learned how to stack, shrink wrap and palletize them for delivery to a local scap metals dealer.

Kelly, Mike and Morgan wrap it up!

Mike and Sam find a staging spot.

These youth did truly amazing work in the 6 hours they each gave in service to Wheels of Hope and those in need! Re-using and recycling is the main reason Wheels of Hope is able to collect free wheelchairs for those in need who have no means to purchase a wheelchair in developing nations overseas.

Many of them are planning on going to Nicaragua this summer to work with the Messiah Project and the Land of Judah orphanage. Wheels of Hope is working with PTs Mike and Nicole on equipping part of the orphanage for children with disabilities, bringing hope to the helpless.

Our friends Mike and Evey Williams are currently in Kenya, bringing Wheels of Hope equipment to those in need in remote places. Read Evey’s blog post at Thankyou Kenya

Below is Pastor Timothy balancing an Invacaare chair, reconditioned by volunteers at our Canton warehouse, on the trail to an elderly patient. Mike was on the trail behind Evey (who took the photo) with a bedside commode!


Here, the elderly woman is presented with her chair. In typical Kenyan generosity, she presented Evey with a live chicken as an expression of her gratitude!


Next, Pastor Timothy presents the very useful bedside commode, which will make it possible for her to use with assistance. The assistant could no longer help her use the typical squatting-style toilet.


And the best part is how Mike is training Pastor Timothy and others to repair the equipment they’ve distributed!



This month, we got a nice email from the in-country director of Vine International in Guatemala. Wheels of Hope has partnered with Vine International since our inception in 1997, thanks to the networking of one of our founders, Mark Richard of Hope Haven International. Dennis writes:

“This is one of your chairs going out.  If I remember correctly this is a man made paraplegic after motor vehicle accident.  The chair he has used for years had multiple welds, the seat was a piece of leather riveted in place (for the umpteenth time).

“He and his family are very grateful and blessed.

“Cindy and I feel really blessed in these situations and recognize that we get the benefit of seeing the tears of gratitude and the smiles of joy.

“May our LORD return every blessing to you and your team one hundred fold … of course that will mean more work!”

In Christ,
Dennis & Cindy McCutcheon

Another great story about just the right chair at just the right time just happened in the Vine warehouse. Read Dennis account of a common miracle “Wish you could have been in the warehouse today”

We ask for prayer, not only for those who receive wheelchairs and mobility aids through Vine International, but for the State-side Director of the Vine pipe-line, who is undergoing treatment for cancer at this time. May the Lord bring complete healing to our friend, Woody!

March 29, 2012

Good news !!! Yesterday we received the container shipment…. What beautiful equipment !!!! Thanks so much for this !!! Most of all this equipment is brand new !!!

Yesterday we were with about 35 people to unload and albel / check the equipment…. We had a group of about 20 soldiers also helping us to unload. It was quite hard work as we were unloading the container with a temperature of … 42 degrees !!! Today we continue to go through all the boxes… Now we just made the complete inventory and tomorrow will be still a day to go through a couple of boxes… But really… this is a very beautiful load of equipment !!!

Again many thanks.
Many greetings and take care!

Luc and the RICD Wheelchair Project Team


Dr. Samai, Director of the RICD Hospital, unlocks the container


Many hands make light work? The Chaing Mai team of volunteers from Pioneers Missionaries, our in-country Director Luc, Doug and Many hands make light work?Joey Tell and Thai staff of the RICD hospital, including Dr. Samai and members of the Thai military!


The Thai military unloading the container in the hot, hot, hot sun


Wheels of Hope wheelchairs and other mobility equipment awaiting in-county inventory


Wheels of Hope, Thailand Director Luc speaking with RICD Hospital Director Dr. Samai amidst a sea of rollators (see the previous post about reusing rollator parts)


Volunteer Joey Tell inspects a wheelchair for serial number, make and model with an RICD staff member.

Last Saturday (March 24) five new friends came to help kick-off our new

Warehouse Volunteer Recycling Project

Join us from 9am – 2pm every Second and Fourth Saturday
April 14 & 28; May 12 & 26;
June 16 & 30; July 14 & 28; August 11 & 25
September 8 & 22 and October 13 & 27

It’s time to move mountains!

Reduce. reuse, recycle: broken rollators are reused and recycled. Wheels of Hope volunteers take apart the broken equipment, sort usable parts for reuse at overseas workshops where the reconditioned rollators are distributed. The broken aluminum pieces are scrap-metal recycled to help support Wheels of Hope operations. Nearby landfills are reduced!

Lynda Rimke taking apart a rollator

Paul Mack taking apart a rollator March 24th

Larry Brainard taking apart a rollator March 24th

Boxes of parts from 6 rollators awaiting shipment to a partnering overseas repair shop

A box of scrap aluminum from the same 6 broken rollators

Cardboard mountains are also recycled!

On March 24th, Wanna, Savanna and Langley from Bethel Temple AG in Canton have faith to move this mountain!

Their new, neat stacks await recycling! Great job, ladies!

Join us next time on Saturday April 14th!