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Whirlwind Wheelchair International honored with Schweitzer Award

August 24, 2011

Chapman University's 2011 Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence was presented to Whirlwind Wheelchair International. (See caption at end of story.)

Chapman University presented its highest honor for a non-profit organization, the Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence, to San Francisco-based Whirlwind Wheelchair International during the university’s Opening Convocation on August 24, which officially began the university’s academic year.  The award is accompanied by a $20,000 cash prize to support the organization’s work. 

Whirlwind Wheelchair International (www.whirlwindwheelchair.org) is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities in the developing world while promoting sustainable local economic development. Whirlwind’s goal is for every person in the developing world who needs a wheelchair to obtain one, thus offering that individual personal independence and integration into society. For more than 30 years, in more than 40 countries, Whirlwind has focused on producing durable, low-cost, functional wheelchairs.  The organization is based at San Francisco State University as part of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement.

“We are truly honored to be chosen as this year’s recipient of Chapman University’s Schweitzer Award,” said Marc Krizack, executive director of Whirlwind Wheelchair International. “Dr. Albert Schweitzer has been a model and inspiration to all who dedicate themselves to improving the lives of the least fortunate among us.  We can only hope that we will continue to be worthy of being associated with the name of such a great humanitarian.”

Krizack added, “Wheelchair users in the U.S.A. have been asking for our RoughRider wheelchair.  They too want to be able to enjoy rugged outdoor recreation on terrain similar to the places our developing-world users go every day.  The funds that come with this award will be used to cover costs related to establishing production with our new FDA-approved manufacturer in Indonesia.  We are grateful to Chapman and their donors for assisting Whirlwind with our latest manufacturing project, which will serve many thousands of wheelchair users in the developing world, and users in the U.S.A., beginning this fall.”

The cash award of $20,000 to Whirlwind Wheelchair is due to the generosity of Deborah D. Bridges and Larry J. Bridges, and Chapman University joins the Schweitzer Institute in gratitude for their support.  The Bridges, of Newport Coast, are longtime friends of Chapman and have been involved with many of the university’s events, programs and activities.  

“We are delighted to link hands with Chapman University to expand the impact of the Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence,” said Deborah Bridges.  “We believe that people should do all of the good they can, for as long as they can, for as many people as they can.  Whirlwind Wheelchair International will be a wonderful recipient of the award, since they aspire to bring dignity and independence to thousands of people.” 

“The bronze bust of Dr. Schweitzer on the Chapman campus, seen daily by our students,  carries his famous call to action: ‘Search and see whether there is not some place where you may invest your humanity,’” said Marvin Meyer, Ph.D., director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute and Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies. “Whirlwind Wheelchair International carries out profoundly significant work, changing the lives of people across the world by giving them the gift of mobility.   We are deeply grateful to Deborah and Larry Bridges for their support of this award, which will allow many more people to be helped by this amazing organization.”

Pictured: Standing (l to r), Chapman President James L. Doti, Ph.D.; Larry Bridges; Keoke King, marketing director of Whirlwind Wheelchair; Marvin Meyer, Ph.D., director of Chapman’s Schweitzer Institute.  Seated (l to r), Deborah Bridges and Morgan Duffy, Stanford University student and intern at Whirlwind Wheelchair.

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