Archives for category: Wheels of Hope Thailand

Wheels of Hope shipped a forty foot sea container to Thailand in July with over a 127 wheelchairs, 185 folding walkers, 35 rollators, 118 pair of crutches, 118 canes, 74 bedside commodes and many other durable medical
equipment (DME) related items. But this almost didn’t happen in time!

As the shipping date kept getting closer, we got a big donation from the maintenance man at Grace Baptist Church of Brunswick, Pat Wilkinson. He called asking if we needed wheelchairs. He has a contact with a drugstore chain that needed to dispose of 30 or so wheelchairs and other DME. I asked when do they need picked up? I would need to rent a truck to get that many. He responded that he would bring them to the warehouse! Yes, yes Lord!

The chairs were like new and had minor issues. Our Tuesday Volunteers were able to get them done very quickly! Thanks again Lord!!! And just a month be- fore the date Pat Wilkinson called again with a few more new chairs.

Help Came …

Helpers to the rescue: volunteers from load a sea container bound for The Wheelchair Project, our partner organization in Thailand
Helpers to the rescue: volunteers from area churches and youth groups load a sea container bound for The Wheelchair Project, our partner organization in Thailand

And at the very last minute, God also supplied a great team of young folks to load the container that warm Saturday July morning! We had volunteers from Maranatha Bible Church and Hope United Methodist Church in Akron, Mission View Church in North Canton, and other friends lend a hand. In the weeks leading up to loading day, I was being distracted in thoughts of having to load this container with just my wife and I … thank you Lord for all the hands that made my worrisome thoughts vanish! He knew our needs!

Help came for Wheels of Hope! Hats off to Rick Thompson, of Thompson Target, for all his connections, and providing lunch for the crew!

… and Help Was Given to the Helpless

Meanwhile, in Thailand, Joey and Jasmine Tell and The Wheelchair Project team continue to distribute our equipment to the neediest. We are fairly certain that one of the bariatric wheelchairs Patrick shipped was recently given away to a father with … twins!

Jasmine shared on October 24 “I love how God provided for the unexpected in Ratchaburi this week! … two sons in need of a wheelchair, but only one caregiver to push them. This father came to us and requested a single wheelchair big enough for both of his sons. They were a walk in, no ap- plication prior, and we hadn’t come prepared for their request, we thought. But then we found a wheelchair wide enough to fit both brothers together, and the joy they felt was so visible to all around. It may be unconventional, but it is what this family needed and we were thankful to provide help to this amazing father and his beloved sons.” Jasmine adds that “in Ratchaburi [we are] supported by the local church” who follows up with the patients to build a long term relationship of care and the love of Christ.

Twins receive a transport chair wide enough to share at The Wheelchair Project in northern Thailand.
Twins receive a transport chair wide enough to share at The Wheelchair Project in northern Thailand.

Thank you Tells and The Wheelchair Project, for building on the strategy first envisioned with Joey’s dad, Doug Tell, and the RICD Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital in 2000.

When God gives you a pat on the back, it can feel like a thunderclap.”We will be forever indebted …”

Today is the very first time I have seen this 2016 annual report from our Thai distribution partners, and I am completely undone: a Statement of Appreciation …


The RICD Wheelchair Project 2016 Annual Report, page 6  – right click to enlarge

to Wheels of Hope … when there are so many more organizations donating medical equipment to this incredibly worthy project from all over the world …

… when all I have felt over the last two years is that we’ve become a dying vine due to diminished resources.

Federal regulations have redirected all Durable Medical Equipment from U. S. manufacturers to EPA-certified scrap yards since 2012. The following year, 2013, was our “year of Jubilee” as we rested from 16 years of receiving more equipment than we could refurbish and ship. It took us FIVE “Jubilee” years to empty our football-field sized warehouse space of all the equipment! Now it is almost empty. The inflow remains just a trickle of what it was in former days.

Add to this picture a new 5000-wheelchair distribution goal for 2018 from a Thai financial donor to our Thai partner, the RICD Wheelchair Project: an appeal to increase distribution to Thai persons with disabilities— not twice as much, but five-fold! Which means a corresponding five-fold increase from equipment donors like Wheels of Hope— This is nothing less than a call to faith.

Who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills”? The God we serve, the Bible says. To the ancient man this was riches beyond imagination, the equivalent of the physical and financial resources of a thousand Earths.

Wheels of Hope is not done yet! This year-old tribute describes how we have been blessed, and gives me hope. We have shipped 23 sea containers, each with an average of $200,000 in wheelchairs, walking aids and bed and bath aids, since helping found the RICD Wheelchair Project in 2000. Well over 3000 of lives have been changed. Can we trust Him to equip us to send even more?

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

—by Patrick Rimke


Since our noble volunteers are all camera shy, let me take you on a tour of their world. First, the long set of steps the volunteers must climb up to our second floor warehouse space.

Although we have not received donations from Invacare since 2012, we are keeping busy. We were found by Medwish last year and received over a hundred wheelchairs from them. Our new board member, Patrick Simons, in Dubois PA, brings us about 30 wheelchairs and other items every year. The Hatti Lharlum Foundation is supplying us with tilt-in-space wheelchairs a few times a year.

We also have our worse-case chairs. They are the ones that have been sitting on shelves while we focused on the chairs in better condition. Some of the inventory tags are from 1998. Many are very dusty and may have surface rust.


At the top of the steps is our recycle and storage area for all things misfit. Here we stage equipment for parts, or deconstruct them to recycle the steel and aluminum.

Our volunteers have their work cut out for them. We are blessed to have their dedication, when they finish one, sometimes in two to three days, it looks very good, not new, but in very usable condition. The amount of TLC these chairs require is very time consuming for the volunteers, but these men cheerfully go the distance, week after week.

We get creative with some of them. We do not have matching upholstery so it may have a red seat, green back and gray arm pads. This may start a new trend in custom wheelchair designs! We are also making some of the wider chairs into narrow ones using smaller seat and back upholstery, because there is little need overseas for seating over 20” wide.

Tires, front and rear, are the next big challenge, some are worn down to the plastic wheel. We used most of our stock of good and new wheels last year and sent many replacement wheels to the Wheelchair Project Repair shop in Northern Thailand ( I wish we still had some of them.) We do have some replacement tires but no way to install them on rims.



Footrests and leg-rests are also in short supply. Volunteer Larry Herring has been making modifications to make some work, which is again very time-consuming. Sometimes I have to say we will have to ship that chair with out them. Some users, such as amputees, don’t need foot rests, but ultimately that decision is up to the person seating the recipient.

I am so blessed to fellowship with these two teams of volunteers who come every Tuesday and Wednesday. These eleven guys come most every week, and many volunteer elsewhere during the week. Our Lord has called them to be a part of this ministry.

Because of all of us together, working with the Lord, many lives are changed. Our mobility recipients are able to go to school, work or just get outside in the fresh air. We don’t know how many have called out to Jesus in gratitude or given their lives to Him, but God knows. Their names are written in the Book!

1 Corinthians 3:6 speaks about some that plant and some that water, but God gives the increase. I believe all of us involved with Wheels are the ones who plant, and the ones who water are giving the equipment away in His Name and sharing the love of Christ. God gives the increase as those with disabilities, their families and caregivers discover His unconditional love.


The other end of the main room has our shipping and receiving areas. In the foreground is durable medical equipment we have just received, awaiting Patrick’s assessment for condition, and inventory.


Here is just one skid load of volunteer reconditioned chairs awaiting shipment in early 2017 to the Wheelchair Project in Thailand.

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


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!

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.

It’s just a coincidence that Good Friday and Earth Day occurred on the same day this year, but what a wonderful coincidence it is! Earth Day is really about redeeming the planet from the irresponsible ways we have lived upon it since the Industrial Revolution. Good Friday is really about God redeeming mankind from the irresponsible ways we have lived our lives ever since good old Adam and Eve messed up and sent us spiraling out of control from The Garden.

It’s “funny” that some folks look at Jesus as a victim on Good Friday, since he clearly knew what he was getting in to and came to Earth exactly for the purpose that was activated when he was crucified. Of course, Easter makes it all clear that he knew just what he was doing and that God had the power to raise him even from death. Hallelujah!

Wheels of Hope is also about redemption – redeeming the lives of the unfortunate in developing nations by supplying them with wheelchair donations and other mobility aids. Please consider helping us at this very special, very powerful time of the year. We are always looking for volunteers, financial contributions, wheelchair donations, as well as your prayers that God will continue to bless our efforts and this wheelchair ministry.

Happy “Resurrection Day” every day to you from Wheels of Hope!!!


Hi Patrick and Lynda,

3/18/11 11:23 PM

Luc and I [Johannes] are really looking for funding opportunities for getting containers from Wheels of Hope this year. Luc was talking with a businessman who has helped us with transport in country and he consented to help with the containers. We have been so bold to ask for three containers and he agreed, so we praise the Lord.

Now we have not asked you if it would be possible for three containers to be sent from Wheels of Hope? We have been thinking of a time line of 1. Container be sent in April 2. Container in August and 3. Container in Oktober.

At the moment we do not have any standard wheelchairs left and a waiting list of 1600 applications! We would appreciate if we could discuss this time line with you as we will have to send in the request letter with the time line to our esteemed donor.

Luc Masschelein and Johannes Janzen
Wheels of Hope and Pioneers of Hope in Thailand