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

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By: Andrew Moore, WEYI/WSMH Staff

MOUNT MORRIS, Mich. (WEYI/WSMH) - Tom Schmidt has spent most of his life building custom cars and motorcycles.

In 1975, Schmidt was involved in a car versus motorcycle accident and lost a portion of his right leg.

Then in 1992, he and his wife stopped along a roadway to help a victim of a car accident. They were both hit by oncoming traffic. Following the incident, doctors amputated his right leg and cut the other in half. He then had to rely on a wheelchair for mobility.

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.

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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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