When the Philippine Marine Corps and LDS Charities rolled into GMA Kapuso Foundation, there was a room full of hopeful families anxiously waiting for their wheelchairs.
The wheelchair distribution sponsored by GMA Kapuso was a special project for July’s National Disabilities Month with the theme "Gulong ng Pag-asa" (Wheels of Hope). GMA Kapuso had taken applications for people who needed wheelchairs. They were then evaluated and if they qualified, they were invited to this event. At this point, the Marines and LDS Charities provided assessors to evaluate, measure, and make sure each recipient had the right kind of wheelchair and that it fit properly. The individual recipients and their stories are what made the day memorable. It was an amazing emotional experience for all the participants.
Jerry contracted polio when he was 17 years old. Now, more than 20 years later, he has a small table covered with an umbrella from which he sells snacks and softdrinks. When asked where he lives he said, “On the street by where I sell my food.” His 14-year-old son had been his only help until last April when he died of Leukemia. Jerry is alone but never unhappy. When he received his wheelchair he said, “I am very happy because now I can go to church, the market, and work. I am mobile. The size and design is right for me!”
Fifteen-year-old Matthew is the oldest of seven children. He was born by normal delivery, but when his mother brought him home she discovered he had a shunt in his head and was having seizures. The doctors didn’t know what his prognosis would be. His mom said she took him to church every Friday, and when he was six years old, he finally began to crawl. At six and a half, he learned to sit up, and between seven and eight, he began to walk. As he grew, the weight of his upper body increased his need for a wheelchair. When he was assessed, they were excited to find that he had enough mobility that they were able to give him a walker. Matthew was so excited that he immediately took off on his thin little legs; he was so wobbly that he almost fell. He was immediately measured for a wheelchair, but was also able to take the walker so that he would not lose the mobility that he had already gained.
Jean Rose and Regine are eleven and seven-year-old sisters who both suffer from muscular dystrophy. Jean Rose had an old wheelchair, but both girls had hopes of going home with new ones. Eleven-year-old Jean Rose was measured quickly and so excited as they sat her in her standard chair. As they assessed Regine, they found that the standard wheelchair would not give her the necessary head support that she needed. She needed what is called an intermediate chair and it had to be made to the child’s specific measurements. They sat Regine back by her mom and she thought she had been turned down for a wheelchair. She was totally heartbroken and could not hold back her tears. Everyone was quickly trying to help her understand, but the scene of a heartbroken child brought tears flowing from the eyes of all that observed. Finally they brought her a wheelchair to use until her special chair could be properly made and fitted.
Landrico could not walk at all and his brother-in-law had put wheels on a regular chair so someone could push him around. It was wonderful to see him fitted and receive an actual, proper wheelchair.
Mark Ronald has muscular distrophy and has been cared for by his grandfather since he was young. Two years ago he was able to go to college and major in graphic arts. Then in December he had a stroke. This wheelchair was so necessary for him to function.
Sister Concepcion was gracious as she thanked the benefactors, "You are doing a very wonderful work."