Mobility Isn't a Luxury, It’s a Right
Updated: Jun 5, 2020
“Those who are able to help others shouldn’t wait for an opportunity, they should take their own action” – Timothy Balz, founder of Freedom Chairs.
Tim was an average high school sophomore with a knack for robotics and ingenuity until one day his life changed drastically.
While attending his robotics club he found an old manual wheelchair tossed in the trash. A light bulb went off in Tim’s head and he thought he could repair the wheelchair as a passion project for his robotics club. He spent weeks repairing the wheelchair and successfully restored it to its full functionality but couldn’t shake a feeling that there was still more he could be doing.
Shortly after, Tim found a new project to put his newfound talents back to work.
The school’s recycling program started to take off and many students became involved with the program. But one student stood out from the rest. Tim watched for weeks as this student struggled to pick up and transport recycling bins in an incompatible manual wheelchair. He struck a conversation with this student and asked why he wasn’t in a wheelchair that fits his specific needs. His response was he couldn’t afford it and his insurance couldn’t assist him.
At first Tim planned to modify the wheelchair he already repaired and gift it to the student, but he quickly realized the wheelchair wound not meet his specific needs. So, Tim started thinking outside the box and created a plan to build a custom wheelchair from spare parts and customize it to the student’s needs. Tim traded a few old scooters he had been working on in exchange for wheelchair parts. He spent weeks in his garage working to build a wheelchair with the hopes of changing this student’s life.
And that’s exactly what he did.
Tim’s new custom wheelchair restored the student’s freedom and forever changed his life for the better.
With an overwhelming joy of helping others, Tim decided to continue down this path and started a grass roots campaign to educate his community about the sting of debilitating conditions and the necessity for complex rehab technology that fits the specific need of each patient. Shortly after, he received an influx of donated wheelchairs to continue his mission of helping his community overcome mobility challenges. Over 120 custom built wheelchairs later, Tim now manages one of the largest non-profit organizations in the Midwest, known as Freedom Chairs.
Tim turned his love for robotics and a desire for servitude into a notable duty. He advocates for patients who have exhausted options and lost all hope. He restores the patient’s independence and gives them their lives back. To learn more about Tim’s mission and the work of Freedom Chairs, visit freedomchairs.org.