Numotion ATP, Kris, SMS, CRTS has been an ATP for 17 years. For the last 16 years, he has visited a number of different countries from Costa Rico to Israel to distribute wheelchairs in conjunction with Hope Haven West
based out of California.
“Each trip is a different experience. While there you get to immerse yourself in their community and see the needs they have. It is never lost on me how nice we have it here with the accessibility we have that they do not. Some of the families we meet have been carrying their loved ones around for years. Being able to give their loved one mobility and their families more freedom is an amazing feeling,” said Kris.
This year, Kris visited Ecuador and was joined by eighteen other travelers ranging from volunteers with minimal experience to Clinical Specialists and Rehab Therapists well versed in Seating and Mobility. Joining Kris on this distribution were two Pediatric Specialists from UNC Hospitals, one Physical and one Occupational Therapist, an Occupational Therapist Specializing in mobility and seating from the Department of Veterans Affairs based out of Durham, NC and a Physical Therapist working for a non-profit out of Arizona. The trip also hosted four Physical Therapy students from the University of the Pacific, dubbed ‘The Ecuador 4’, and an adjunct faculty member from the same University.
All members of the team flew into Ecuador’s capital Quito from the states to catch a connecting plane to Manta in the province of Manabi. The team’s final destination for the distribution was a 45-minute ride from Manta to a city called Portoviejo. Portoviejo is Ecuador’s 7th largest city with roughly 250 thousand residents. The distribution setting was a large, open-air local church, arranged thanks to the assistance of a local Rotary Club and a local health clinic. These two partners played an integral role in the logistics of this distribution, as well as helping to identify those in need of the mobility equipment. Nearly all of the 196 wheelchairs delivered this trip went to children living with varying diagnoses including CP, Spina Bifida, hydrocephalus and very involved Dystonia. Every complex rehab and Hope Haven chair was used with only a few standard weight Manual Wheelchairs remaining. The recipients and families alike were very appreciative to finally have a means of transporting their loved ones and providing them with the gift of independent mobility. Some of those seen on this distribution had never before been able to move without the assistance of someone else.
“It feels good to use the skills you have and give it away for free; helping from the kindness of your heart. The people we meet when we are on these trips always say how much we helped them and how grateful they are but I tell them that they help me more than I could ever help them. Going on these trips reminds me of why I do what I do. It reminds me that I am a part of something bigger than myself. I am already looking forward to the next trip” said Kris.