Before Don Schoendorfer founded the Irvine-based Free Wheelchair Mission, a trip to Morocco he and his wife took in 1979 first sparked his desire in donating wheelchairs globally.
As he passed a narrow street in Medina during that trip, he saw a woman lying on her stomach who was using her hands to drag herself across the road. She moved a few inches at a time, moving carefully so that no one would step on her hands, he said. He remembers no one stopping to help her.
“That was a hard reality to react to and we didn’t know how to react to it, so we walked away and essentially walked away for around 20 years,” Schoendorfer said. “But life caught up to us.”
Later on, Schoendorfer began to fiddle with spare parts he had in his home garage from his work as an engineer. He spent around two years figuring …