Meet Ashley Caveda, a writer and digital marketer for a pro-bono legal clinic in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has been a Free Wheelchair Mission ambassador for over five years.

Ashley recently visited the Free Wheelchair Mission offices in Irvine, California, and shared why she chose to get involved:

“When my younger brother James and I were children, we abandoned our wheelchairs for hours at a time to play on the floor. Paralyzed in the same car accident as toddlers, the staircase in my parents’ home morphed into a mountain of adventure for us. We built forts on the landing and grappled with gravity to the summit of the second floor, our parents tripping over pillows and blankets on their way past us to their bedroom.

“But—when we tired of these games—our older brother John helped us back into our wheelchairs again.

“While I was in my 20s, I saw a documentary about children and adults living in other nations who were paralyzed like me, yet who did not have wheelchairs of their own. They were forced to drag their bodies everywhere they went. If they left their home for work or school or any other place, it was only by crawling there. But this was not a game.

“I recall an 8-year-old boy in India saying he had been carried his entire life—every place he ever went, his father bore the burden of his body for him. In the middle of the documentary, when the boy received the gift of a wheelchair, I wept with him.

“On occasion, I too have to be carried—up a staircase or into an inaccessible building. I am barred from some places altogether. But more often than not, I have the freedom to propel myself where I want to go. To the able-bodied observer, my wheelchair may represent adversity, their eyes perceiving only loss. But my wheelchair does not imprison me; it empowers me.

“For this reason, I choose to support Free Wheelchair Mission and their work to give the gift of mobility to those in need. Everyone deserves to enjoy such freedom.”

Ashley offers a stirring reminder: that a wheelchair empowers, not imprisons. It represents freedom, not limitations.

Because of friends like you and Ashley, more than one million people have received this gift of freedom—a gift that empowers—and together, we can continue to offer this freedom to the estimated 70 million people in the world who still need a wheelchair.

Thank you for all you do to empower a life.

Blessings,

Don Schoendorfer