Free Wheelchair Mission’s Annual Gala Celebrates the Transforming Gift of Mobility with Keynote Swati Dlamini Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, Swati Dlamini Mandela, travels from South Africa to Orange County to bring awareness to disability in developing nations.

Irvine, CA, June 21, 2018 --( Free Wheelchair Mission will celebrate its 15th Annual Miracle of Mobility Thursday, July 26, at Segerstrom Center of the Arts with special guest Swati Dlamini Mandela, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and humanitarian activist. Since 2001, the Irvine-based humanitarian organization has produced and delivered more than one million wheelchairs - free to people in need throughout the developing world.

Mandela is founding partner and managing director of Qunu Workforce, a recruitment organization dedicated to creating equality in the workforce for South Africans living with disabilities. South Africa is one of the 93 countries FWM works with to provide wheelchairs to those most in need. People with disabilities in developing countries have very few options and resources and are often left to crawl on the ground, hindering their ability to go to school or work and lead a life of independence. Receiving a wheelchair is a life-changing event for the person in need, their family, and the community.

Miracle of Mobility, which is open to the public, has emerged as one of the “Top 5 Dinners/Galas” in Orange County, drawing close to 800 guests and raising more than $1.5 million to provide more than 20,000 wheelchairs each year. Guests will enjoy cuisine and entertainment from a handful of countries FWM serves, while bidding on an array of luxury items in the silent auction.

Following the keynote, attendees will participate in an exciting live mobility auction, where guests can donate wheelchairs to change the lives of even more people in need.

With over 70 million people worldwide in need of a wheelchair, FWM is now working to give out the next million chairs by 2025, half the time it took to give out the first. Attendees of the Miracle of Mobility gala will make a large impact towards that goal.

“The gift of a wheelchair goes beyond mobility for the individual, it provides hope and independence that wasn’t there before,” said Don Schoendorfer, founder and president, Free Wheelchair Mission. “For the first time in years, decades even, a person can care for themselves, go to school or work, and participate in their community. When we first began our work, we set out to change the life of the individual in need, which is still the goal, but now through the gift of mobility and our amazing network of supporters, we are changing the vitality of entire communities.”

Mandela recently attended an FWM distribution event to see first-hand the life-changing impact of receiving a wheelchair. She helped deliver dozens of wheelchairs to a senior home in Alexandra, South Africa, where many older people live with disabilities that make it impossible for them to move and care for themselves and do not have families to care for them.

“The smiles on their faces when receiving a wheelchair were priceless. It goes beyond giving a wheelchair, it gives people hope that someone cares and is there to help them,” Mandela said. “My grandfather always said, ‘Everybody has to do their bit,’ and Free Wheelchair Mission is going beyond that to help people in dire need. Those with disabilities face so many obstacles, from limited access to healthcare and employers that don’t understand how to integrate them into the workforce. Receiving a wheelchair goes a long way to give the hope and possibility of a different outcome.”

With a brother who suffers from epilepsy, Mandela knows first-hand the struggles people with disabilities face when trying to work or find healthcare resources, especially in the developing world. As keynote speaker, she will share stories of lives transformed by receiving a FWM wheelchair, and the tremendous impact the gift of mobility has on the person, family and vitality of an entire community.

The Miracle of Mobility is July 26, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Segerstrom Center of the Arts. Interviews with Don Schoendorfer and Swati Dlamini Mandela are available upon request prior to the event.

Learn more about FWM and the event here:

Media interested in more information and/or attending the gala, please contact Delaine Moore, HKA Marketing Communications at 714.426.0444 ext. 207 or

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 renewed dignity, independence, and hope through the gift of mobility. Learn more at
HKA Marketing Communications
Delaine Moore