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Irvine Engineer Helps Build 500,000 Wheelchairs For Those In Need

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By Whitney Drolen

IRVINE (CBS) — It may not look like your conventional wheelchair, but millions just like these have given the gift of mobility to people across the world who can’t afford a wheelchair.

Don Schoendorfer founded Orange County-based Free Wheelchair Mission back in 2001.

“I wanted to go off and be a billionaire, and what better place than in Orange County,“ he says. “I was doing respectable engineering, but I wasn’t really getting closer to my goal of wanting to help other people that have no money.”

Don figured he could cut costs by using mountain bike tires and white resin lawn chairs. He and his team of volunteers have now assembled and given out more than 500,000 wheelchairs.

Don, who has been recognized by former President Bush, says he’s finally found his mission in life.

“This is what I’m supposed to do. This is what we’re all supposed to. That’s why we live in America, to help the rest of the world. That’s my attitude.”

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