Free Wheelchair Mission Featured on Award-Winning The Visionaries Series on PBS

Powerful new documentary, "Because No One Should Have to Crawl," chronicles journey to give out one million wheelchairs in developing world.

Irvine, CA, April 02, 2018 --( Free Wheelchair Mission, a world leader in mobility solutions for people with disabilities in developing countries, will be profiled in the upcoming season of The Visionaries, the award-winning public television series hosted by acclaimed actor Sam Waterston of HBO’s The Newsroom and Grace and Frankie and formerly of Law & Order. Distributed through an ACCESS offer through National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), The Visionaries will air on PBS stations across the country. WGBY in Springfield, MA is the presenting station.

The Visionaries returned with twelve half-hour episodes that take viewers around the world to experience the lives of extraordinary people tackling some of humanity’s toughest challenges. These are timely stories that address issues from the front page of today’s newspaper – mental health, income disparity, global sustainability, social innovation, and more.

Sam Waterston guides us on a journey that leads to real solutions with proven outcomes, many of which have the potential to change the world. “This is one of the most exciting years we have had in our long history,” said Bill Mosher, Executive Producer, The Visionaires. “We had an opportunity to explore some of the most important issues of our time, but to do it through the eyes of local people working in their own communities.”

Now in its 22nd season, The Visionaries will highlight such topics as disability in the developing world by showing the work of Free Wheelchair Mission. Selected from hundreds of applicants, the documentary chronicles Free Wheelchair Mission’s 16-year journey to deliver one million wheelchairs around the world to people in critical need of mobility.

Free Wheelchair Mission began in 2001 in founder Don Schoendorfer’s garage, as the entrepreneur sought an innovative solution to the growing need for wheelchairs in the developing world. Currently, an estimated 70 million people need a wheelchair but cannot afford one, leaving people without means to go to school, work, or care for themselves. Many are left to crawl on the ground as their means of transportation. Schoendorfer, an engineer by trade, found a way to build a wheelchair that could withstand the rugged terrain of developing countries, is easy to care for, yet costs just $80 for the organization to produce and deliver. Thanks to a strong network of supporters and global distributors, all recipients receive the wheelchair as a gift at no cost to them.

“Each wheelchair delivered represents a life changed; the recipients have better access to education, employment, and social activities all through the gift of a wheelchair,” Schoendorfer said. “We are incredibly grateful to work with the Visionaries team to tell this story — it’s both a celebration of one million lives changed, and a message to inspire others to help transform more lives even faster.”

The documentary concludes with the grand finale — a trip to Peru this past summer to give the millionth wheelchair to a 12-year-old girl who desperately needed one due to an illness that left her mentally and physically impaired.

“I believe that the central idea of The Visionaries – doing what you can about huge, intractable problems – is an idea worth encouraging,” said Waterston.

“Viewers will be astounded to discover people just like them who are changing the world in ways they can replicate in their own cities and towns,” added Mosher. “That is the really exciting thing – we are spreading positive solutions across the country.”

A trailer of the documentary can be viewed here: and viewers can watch the full show on their local PBS station.

About Free Wheelchair Mission:
Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM) is a humanitarian, faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs at no cost to people with disabilities living in developing nations. In collaboration with a network of like-minded partners, Free Wheelchair Mission has provided more than one million wheelchairs to those living with a disability in 93 developing nations since 2001, providing dignity, independence, and hope through the gift of mobility. Learn more at

About The Visionaries
The Visionaries documentary series, hosted by acclaimed actor Sam Waterston, highlights the rarely told stories of individuals and non-profit organizations that are working to create positive social change throughout the world. Visionaries is the winner of several Telly Awards and an Emmy nomination for Best Documentary. It has produced over 175 documentaries for its nationally broadcast public television series, The Visionaries, which is currently airing its 22nd season. It is presented by WGBY in Springfield, MA. For more information, please visit
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