16 years Student Made Wheelchairs for People in Need

Engineering student Tim Balz was just 16 years old when he started Freedom Chairs, an Indiana-based nonprofit that helps anyone in need of a mobility chair. The idea originated when Tim saw Steven, his high school classmate, struggling as he pushed his manual wheelchair to pick up the school's recycling bins. Steven's family did not meet Medicaid's standards for an electric wheelchair and they couldn't afford to buy him one. With help from his robotics team and his coach, Tim modified the wheelchair for Steven, providing him with ease of mobility. After seeing the difference it made in Steven's life, Tim embarked on his mission to give wheelchairs and medical equipment to more people in need. Tim spent all of his college savings and worked two part-time jobs to run Freedom Chairs. Tim and his volunteers work out of a storage unit that has no electricity. It's challenging, but Tim says it keeps cost down, enabling him to help more people. In the last three years, Freedom Chairs has provided 80 people with medical equipment and electric wheelchairs.