SF State News {University Communications}

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Help for Haiti: Whirlwind Wheelchair

January 22, 2010 -- SF State's Whirlwind Wheelchair program is preparing to send rugged wheelchairs to earthquake survivors in Haiti. The chairs will assist thousands of people injured in the quake who now have lasting mobility impairments.

Photo of Arnulfo Criollo using his Whirlwind RoughRider wheelchair to navigate a ramp-less curb in Colombia.

Arnulfo Criollo uses his Whirlwind RoughRider wheelchair to navigate a ramp-less curb in Colombia.

"A disaster of this magnitude often leaves as many permanently disabled as it kills," said Marc Krizack, executive director of Whirlwind Wheelchair. "We will help as many people as we can."

In operation for more than 20 years at SF State, Whirlwind Wheelchair designs and builds rugged, low-cost wheelchairs for developing countries. Whirlwind's factory in San Juan del Rio, Mexico, is producing a rush order of Whirlwind's RoughRider wheelchair. Emergency relief expert George Heake has described the RoughRider model as an ideal wheelchair for Haiti after the earthquake. The chair uses off-road bicycle wheels and wide front caster wheels for easier travel through mud and over uneven and broken surfaces.

After rescue efforts are complete, thousands of survivors will need durable wheelchairs to restart their daily lives and participate in rebuilding their country. "We are reaching out to Bay Area businesses and citizens, asking for support of our efforts to provide good wheelchairs to people who will be trapped in their homes without mobility," Krizack said.

Visit Whirlwind Wheelchair's Web site to make a donation toward wheelchair distribution in Haiti: www.wheelchairsforhaiti.org. Whirlwind is also seeking volunteers who can help promote their cause on Facebook, for more information contact keoke@whirlwindwheelchair.org.

If your department or program is organizing help for Haiti, please let us know. E-mail pubcom@sfsu.edu with details.


-- Elaine Bible


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