Tuesday, June 11, 2002
By Matt Myerhoff
PASADENA - Robert Leagons of Altadena, who had his hip replaced to correct arthritis so severe he could no longer walk, became mobile again on Monday after receiving one of 240 free wheelchairs.
Leagons said his health insurance only covered a walker so he couldn't afford a wheelchair like those distributed at the Convalescent Aid Society in Pasadena.
"It really means a lot," Leagons said. "Now I can get around, and I can go to my grandson's baseball games."
William Dittmar arrived Monday with a walker and rolled out in a candy-apple red wheelchair.
"Now I've got to learn how to use it," said Dittmar, 68, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
The Wheelchair Foundation put up $108,000 to match $108,000 raised by the Rotary Club of Los Angeles and Chevron/Texaco to pay for the wheelchairs.
Most of its clients cannot afford wheelchairs, are uninsured, or have insurance that will not cover a second mobility aide, said Aid Society director Kathy Evans.
The agency has 3,400 clients using some of the 3,000 different types of equipment available, from canes to wheelchairs to hospital beds for home use, Evans said.
Despite the name, not all of the Convalescent Aid Society's clients are elderly. "The only criteria is that they live in the area," Evans said.
The agency in May lent out 576 pieces of equipment, including 115 wheelchairs; its busiest month in nearly 80 years, Evans said.
"The equipment can be used as long as needed," Evans said. "When we get it back, we refurbish it, sterilize it and then it's lent out again."
"It gives me great personal satisfaction seeing how many people we were able to help with this project," said Chris Lewis, son of entertainer Jerry Lewis and the Wheelchair Foundation's director of development.
"Since our foundation, we've delivered 50,000 wheelchairs in 92 countries. Our goal is to deliver one million in our first five years."
An additional 240 wheelchairs, paid for by the same project, were sent
to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, to benefit poverty-stricken people unable to
Copyright © 2002 Los Angeles Daily News