Free Wheelchair Mission Gala Raises $1.8M

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Silent auction items and food stations were available to guests at the Free Wheelchair Mission gala at Segerstrom Center.
— Photo courtesy of Free Wheelchair Mission ©

Surprises, inspiration and the joy of giving culminated with Free Wheelchair Mission receiving over $1.8 million in donations at the organization’s annual gala, held this year at Segerstrom Center for the Arts on July 25.

The fund raised – the most ever at the gala – are enough to transform the lives of more than 22,500 individuals living with disabilities in under-resourced nations around the world. Already, the humanitarian nonprofit has distributed 1.2 million wheelchairs around the world.

Attendees tried a VR experience that took them on a medical mission.
— Photo courtesy of Free Wheelchair Mission ©

The 600-plus attendees of the 16th annual Miracle of Mobility gala at Segerstrom Center of the Arts were treated to a fabulous gala evening with several memorable moments. One came from 24-year-old Victoria Arlen, an ESPN host, Paralympics gold medalist, Dancing with the Stars semi-finalist, author and most recently, co-host of the NBC TV’s American Ninja Warrior Junior.

Those credentials would be impressive for anyone but considering that Victoria was struck by two rare neurological diseases at the age of 11, causing her to be trapped in her body in a minimally conscious state for four years. Victoria spoke at the gala about her journey, including the four years when doctors doubted that she would ever return and the subsequent several years when she fought back to begin life again. She offered a message of hope and the importance of being thankful for what you have.

Attendees also had the opportunity to journey virtually to a small Guatemalan village using Oculus VR glasses and feel as though they are on a mission to distribute wheelchairs.

Event Chair and Free Wheelchair Mission Board Member David Hummelberg of Corona del Mar, keynote speaker Victoria Arlen, Dan Hanson of loanDepot, Nuka Solomon, CEO of Free Wheelchair Mission.
— Photo courtesy of Free Wheelchair Mission ©

A live auction featured generous donors whose $80 donations bought wheelchairs for individuals living with a disability in an under-resourced nation.

Guests enjoyed an internationally themed cocktail reception with food stations offering global cuisine, a silent auction filled with an eclectic array of gifts and experiences, a performance by Infinite Flow, the first wheelchair dance company in the world, and inspirational remarks from Free Wheelchair Founder and President Don Schoendorfer.

Key sponsors of the gala included Transformation Sponsors: Advisors Mortgage Group and The McDonald Family; Freedom Sponsors: The Hummelberg Family, The Morris Family Foundation, Diamond Hill Capital Management, KPMG and PR Construction.

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