Child on a wheelchair
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College Student Collects Wheelchairs and Crutches from Thrift Stores and Basements and Gives them to the Needy

If there’s one word that would best describe a student who’s gone the extra mile to help the needy, it would be compassionate.

Mohan Subadattula, born in the United States, understood what kindness and compassion meant at a very young age when he went on a trip with his family in India. This happened in 2006 when he was 10 years old. During the trip, Mohan was brought by his mother to an orphanage and school for children with disabilities.  

Now that Mohan is 23, he still vividly remembers how the disabled kids couldn’t run free because they had missing limbs. These children had to use improvised wheelchairs made of old lawn chairs with bicycle tires. 

“But most of them were still laughing and smiling and happy to meet us”, Mohan shared with The Washington Post

Because he couldn’t afford not to do something when he knew these people need help, he started Project Embrace. Project Embrace was launched in October 2017 with the goal of providing medical devices like wheelchairs and crutches to those who need them the most. 

As a volunteer measuring disabled children for prosthetics at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Mohan witnessed how these kids would frequently remove their prosthetics because of uneasiness. They would also quickly outgrow them so they needed to get the prosthetics replaced every now and then. He realized it was wasteful because the thrown away prosthetics couldn’t be reused as they were specifically designed for each child. This is when he thought of focusing on giving away crutches and wheelchairs. 

Project Embrace started with only a few pieces, which is why, with the help of his volunteers, he scoured thrift stores and basements to collect more crutches and wheelchairs. They also accept donations from community members and send them to various medical facilities that needed help, not only in India, but also in his own hometown.

“I learned to fit a lot into my Prius, so our living room was always full of wheelchairs and piles of donated medical equipment,” he said. “Everywhere you looked, there were crutches propped up against the wall. My roommates were incredibly patient.”

The nonprofit organization now operates in a donated office space at the University of Utah and a free storage unit in Salt Lake Country. Last May, the volunteers of Project Embrace embarked on a second trip to the Utah-Arizona border with a mission to donate walkers and wheelchairs to the rural Navajo Nation hospital.

“There have been a lot of slip ups along the road, but founding a cause where everyone feels welcome to contribute to greater health will always be the greatest decision I’ve ever made as a student,” Mohan said. 

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or how young you are. When you decide to make an impact and make a change, the important thing is to act on that decision and do it with compassion. Helping others who need help isn’t impossible when if we look for opportunities to spread kindness and hope.


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