Pay It ForwardPosted: Updated:
I was at the grocery store the other day and something happened. It wasn't a big deal, really. But it got me thinking?
I was in line with a cart full of groceries. Basically I was the annoying person who is stocking up when everyone else is just there to buy one or two things. There was only one line open (of course!). And a lady walked up behind me with just a couple of items. She seemed really stressed so I asked her if she'd like to go ahead of me. No big deal. I wasn't in a hurry. Well she was so thankful and appreciative that I offered and, as she hurried out of the store, she said to me something about paying it forward.
The whole pay it forward thing seems simple but at the same time, it is so incredibly powerful. Every time I have an interaction like that, however small and insignificant it seems at the time, I feel like I've contributed -- at least a little bit. And every little bit counts, right?
Tonight I am working on a story about two guys who are paying it forward in a big way. HUGE. They started what's called the Free Wheelchair Mission: To raise awareness about the worldwide need for wheelchairs for the disabled poor. But these guys are not only raising awareness, they are also raising money to buy wheelchairs: Hundreds of thousands of wheelchairs.
Co-founder Don Schoendorfer, a former MIT engineer invented a low cost wheelchair assembled with mountain bike tires and a specially manufactured seat that is waterproof and has a strong UV filter. Each wheelchair can be built and delivered for about $44. That's pretty incredible.
Mike Bayer is an orthopedic surgeon who gave up a lucrative practice in Southern California to travel the world and help Don deliver these wheelchairs.
We met the guys in Arizona about a month ago. They were riding cross country to raise money for the cause. Find out more at www.freewheelchairmission.org
They showed me home video taken in Africa, where many disabled people are forced to crawl to get around. It is shocking video. I've never seen anything like it. These people are forced to live like animals. In fact, Mike told me that in many of these third world countries disabled children are considered a curse and so they are hidden away in a back room. This is the horrifying reality for thousands of disabled children in Africa, India, Central and South America.
When you see the video of these kids receiving wheelchairs, it truly takes your breathe away. These wheelchairs raise them up, not only in stature but also in spirit. A wheelchair that costs less than 50 bucks completely transforms their lives.
The story airs tonight at 5:00. If you miss it, you can check the story out on my archive page by clicking here.
Paying it forward: In whatever capacity, whether it's in line at the grocery store or something much more profound? I am a believer.