After two years of fundraising, East Texas area Knights of Columbus were able to receive over 100 wheelchairs that will be distributed through the American Wheelchair Mission to help people who cannot obtain a wheelchair.
A large truck carrying 115 wheelchairs came to the Knights of Columbus Council 1502 in Tyler, 3509 S SW Loop 323, on Tuesday afternoon for members to unload.
The chairs will soon be distributed to 30 local councils within the Diocese of Tyler’s 33 counties.
David Zeigler, Knights of Columbus Texas State Council education, training and communications director, said it was the first time for the chairs to come to the Tyler area. After making enough money for the chairs, the goal is to get one container of chairs every two years.
The cost of the chairs is $16,500, and Knight members in the Diocese of Tyler area each gave money to help with the cost, Zeigler said.
The chairs that will soon be distributed to families in need come in a range of child and adult sizes, with wheel bases from 14 through 20 inches, he said.
The American Wheelchair Mission is a nonprofit dedicated to delivering brand-new, free wheelchairs and mobility aids to physically disabled children, teens and adults in need of a wheelchair. The Knights of Columbus organization has funded the delivery of wheelchairs for thousands of families and veterans since 2003, according to the American Wheelchair Mission website.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler blessed the boxes of wheelchairs with holy water once the boxes were placed into Knights of Columbus building.
In the blessing, Strickland said he hopes the wheelchairs can help those in need from “natural conception to natural death.”
Zeigler said the plan is to have the chairs distributed within the next two weeks.
Zeigler, who’s been in the Knights of Columbus since 1986, called the wheelchair donation the “crowning jewel” of his time in the organization.
“This is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done with the Knights,” he said.
Some of the Knights chapters that came to Tyler for the chairs include Nacogdoches, Canton, Marshall and Athens.
BJ Packard, a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 7553 in Nacogdoches, came to Tyler to pick up six of the wheelchairs.
“It’s always good to do what you can do,” Packard said. “It’s part of our charity goal. Charity’s one of our objectives.”