Michigan man fixes old wheelchairs so others can use them again, now needs help

Tom Schmidt is taking broken wheelchairs, fixing them, and donating them to dozens of people in need. Now, he needs help to keep his Wheels For Life program going. (WSMH/Drew Moore)

MOUNT MORRIS, Mich. (WEYI/WSMH) - Tom Schmidt has spent most of his life building custom cars and motorcycles but after an accident in 1992, he started working on a new project.

Schmidt and his wife were injured when they were hit by a car while helping others at an accident along I-96.

The accident took one of Schmidt’s legs and severely damaged the other. He relies on a wheelchair to get around comfortably.

Schmidt says it wasn’t until a group from Lapeer called Hometown Heroes came and donated an electric wheelchair that his life started to turn around.

“It gave me my freedom back. The things I could do before I could do again. I could work in the yard and not come back at the end of the day sore. It changed my life,” Schmidt said.

The experience pushed Schmidt to form Wheels For Life.

Working out of his property, he has accepted broken electric wheelchairs, fixed them up, and donated them to people in mid-Michigan and beyond.

“In the past 16 months, I’ve given away over 40 power chairs, and 57 in total. The stories these people have are just incredible with what’s happened to them. Some are going through very bad times. Then they get this wheelchair and they call me in tears telling me, 'Thank you,' because they haven’t been able to do some task in a long time, and now they can,” Schmidt said.

However, Schmidt is in need of help to keep Wheels For Life rolling along.

He’s running low on power chairs, batteries, supplies, and money to keep helping others in need.

He’s financed it so far through donations and with only his Social Security disability income to help.

“It’s becoming almost too much for only myself to handle. Financially I just can’t put any more of my own money into it. But the need is so great, I know I just have to keep going,” Schmidt said.

If you would like to help, Schmidt can be reached at 810-252-3610 or tmesco2@gmail.com. Visit his GoFundMe page here.

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