Rotary gives back

MARSHALL – Local Rotary members found out how many wheelchairs they can cram into a truck Tuesday morning.

The Marshall Sunrise Rotary’s second annual wheelchair collection drive took place recently and was very successful, say the organizers, who collected more than 50 wheelchairs and other assistive devices. The wheelchairs will be refurbished and sent to people all over the world.

Rotary President Chuck Lindemann said Rotary is the largest international civic organization, and the wheelchair collection drive is one of its international activities.

Rotary works with Hope Haven out of Rock Valley, Iowa. One of Hope Haven’s missions is to deliver wheelchairs to people in need in 107 countries around the world.

Shelli Masek, Hope Haven coordinator, said the wheelchairs are headed to Sioux Falls, S.D., to be sorted for repairs.

“Different shops handle different repairs,” said Masek. “Some wheelchairs will go to South Dakota prisons for inmates to work on.”

After any needed repairs and refurbishing, the devices will be shipped to developing countries.

“We can get wheelchairs here (in the United States), but in the third-world countries they have to wait,” said Lindemann.

“In Romania there is a two-year waiting period for wheelchairs, and they cost $2,000,” said Steve Sikorski, district governor-elect for District 5610 Rotary and Hope Haven volunteer.

“In Guatemala, they wait 12, 14, 15 years,” said Masek. “They can’t even get walkers.”

Sikorski and Masek have been to Romania and Guatemala for the distribution process.

“When they get them, they break down in tears,” Masek said.

“They bring physical therapists with to fit the people to the chair,” said Lindemann.

Bike Shop owner and Rotary member Dave Horstmann said community members who have unneeded wheelchairs and mobility devices should save them for next year’s drive or “they can bring to the bike shop anytime.”