From North Alabama volunteer group helps build Mobility Carts for those unable to walk:

HUNTSVILLE Ala. — A group in the Tennessee Valley is working to give people around the world the gift of mobility.

The ability to walk or to be mobile is one that can be taken for granted. The North Alabama affiliate of Mobility Worldwide builds three-wheeled, hand-pedaled mobility carts for people in developing countries who have difficulty walking.

“Our goal this year is a hundred,” said Rodger Keene, the president of the board of Mobility Worldwide North Alabama, one of 24 affiliates around the world.

“Because I’m handicapped, I think it makes it more important to me perhaps than other people, even though I think all these guys really enjoy it,” said Keene.

Mobility Worldwide says about 70 million people around the world are leg disabled. Keene said these carts keep people from having to crawl in the dirt.

They give the carts away for free and rely on volunteers and donations to build them.

“It’s all donations. We don’t have any funding except for donation,” Keene said.

It takes about $300 and 40 volunteer hours to make a cart. Once it’s completed the carts are shipped off to one of the 100 different countries they serve worldwide.

Keene said while they may never meet the people they help, they get stories every day from people whose lives have been changed.

“Recently there was a lady who was carrying her daughter who had Polio as a child,” he said. “The daughter is now 22 years old, the mother carried her on her back everywhere she went. We weren’t sure who was the most happy, the daughter or the mom when they got the cart.”

He said the carts allow people to live independently, gain access to medical care, get an education, earn a living and socialize.

“Knowing my life and how my life has changed here in the U.S. because I had opportunities, I like to see other people throughout the world have the opportunities to thrive in the world as I have,” Keene said.

The group’s goal is to build 100 carts this year and they are well on their way. They work on Tuesdays and Saturdays and say all are welcome to help build the carts, no experience necessary.