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17.07.2004 General News

"King of Ghana" to visit U.S.

... to raise public awareness of plight of the world's disabled

SANTA ANA, Ca. (July 16, 2004) — The Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM) announces that his Majesty, Osagyefuo Amoatio Ofori Panin, King of Ghana, will be Guest of Honor and highlight speaker at FWM's annual gala celebration in Orange County, CA. The event is set for July 28th.

The King of Ghana is a champion for the disabled in, not only his country, but globally. He is a passionate supporter of Free Wheelchair Mission, a nonprofit charitable organization headquartered in Santa Ana, CA.

As monarch to over 2.5 million people living in Ghana's eastern region, King Panin studied abroad in England and the United States. The King, regarded as an eloquent orator as well as a dynamic statesman, regularly addresses his parliament. He holds audiences with foreign rulers and dignitaries worldwide, including Prince Charles (HRH).

The King is a fervent advocate for the poor and physically handicapped in his territories. For example, he is an enthusiastic supporter of Emmanual OfosuYeboah, national hero to his fellow Ghanaians. Emmanuel, accompanying King Panin on his visit to the United States, will be present at Free Wheelchair Mission's festive event.

Ghanaian Emmanuel, a 27-year-old year physically challenged international cyclist, was born with a severely deformed right leg. Having undergone surgery to affix a prosthetic leg, Emmanuel went on to win numerous competitions around the world. In 2003 he was the recipient of the distinguished Casey Martin Nike Award. Emmanuel was selected by an international panel of judges to represent Ghana as a torchbearer in the Olympic Torch Relay on June 11.

Free Wheelchair Mission provides the transforming gift of mobility — a free wheelchair — to the poorest-of-the-poor in third world countries. "In wealthy nations such as the U.S.," said Don Schoendorfer, Founder and President of FWM, "a disabled person can easily get a wheelchair. However, in many third world nations, millions of disabled adults and children live without this basic form of mobility. Many are reduced to crawling on the floor or waiting for someone to carry them. Our mission at FWM is to deliver, by the year 2010, 20 million wheelchairs to those in need."

In pursuing this global vision, FWM has grown dramatically in the last three years. For instance, FWM delivered 500+ free wheelchairs in 2001, 5000+ in 2002 and 20,000+ in 2003. FWM's goal for 2004 is to raise $3,000,000 to deliver 75,000 free wheelchairs throughout the world.

"At approximately $40 per wheelchair," said Brett Trowbridge, spokesperson for FWM, "the cost to transform a life is incredibly small. How often do any of us have the opportunity literally to pick someone up off the ground in order to show this kind of practical compassion?"

To learn more about Free Wheelchair Mission, please visit http://www.freewheelchairmission.org/.

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For media ops with the King of Ghana, Emmanual Ofosu Yeboah, or Don Schoendorfer, President and Founder of Free Wheelchair Mission --

Please contact:

Brett Trowbridge Free Wheelchair Missions (714) 931-7443 [email protected]

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Susan Zahn Nat'l Media Op's WDC Media Agency (602) 298-6369 [email protected]

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