Meet Our Founder
Dr. Don Schoendorfer, the founder of Free Wheelchair Mission, is a testament to what is possible with a background in biomedical engineering and a calling for change. While vacationing in Morocco, Don and his wife witnessed the plight of a woman with disabilities, struggling to drag herself across a dirt road. Ignored by the surrounding crowd and barely evading traffic, the woman’s hardship was a scene that Don and Laurie would never forget upon their return to life in southern California. Following the transformative experience, Don turned his God-given talents to solving the problem of immobility in developing nations. His hands-on, inventive approach guided him in designing a low-cost, high-durability and functional wheelchair.
Don attended Columbia University as an undergraduate and earned a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. Professionally, Don oversaw R&D departments in numerous biomedical companies including Haemonetics and Baxter Healthcare. He holds more than 60 U.S. Patents in the field of medical technology and is considered a pioneer in practical transdermal diagnostics as well as blood cell separation technology.
Today Don continues to engage his passion for innovation and progress and his dedication to the mission is unwavering, as he constantly develops new products and ideas that bring mobility to people in developing countries across the globe.