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Group Gives Hope With Wheelchairs



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For many people who are disabled, gaining access to some form of transportation can change their whole life.

And for some of the poorest people in Romania, a local group from the tri-state area is providing hope. A dozen people from Hope Haven International and local rotary clubs are bringing wheelchairs to people in need.

"Just to go make a difference," Luverne Rotary Club member Tammy Loosbrock said.

This is Tammy Loosbrock's first trip to Romania to help distribute wheelchairs. She says she's nervous, but it's something she's wanted to do for a long time.

"I think it's exciting too. It's something I've wanted to do since my youngest were two and that was 11 years ago, so it's fun to be able to do it now," Loosbrock added.

But this isn't just about crossing something off her bucket list. Loosbrock is also channeling her career as a physical therapist with hopes to help the people she meets.

"It just brings you back to what you went into healthcare for in the first place, the passion and the desire to make a difference," Loosbrock said.

That desire is a feeling this entire group shares. The trip will take a little more than a week and this team from Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota hopes to distribute about 50 wheelchairs.

"For them to get a new wheelchair and to be mobile again and to see the tears running down their face, boy it's just a very heart-warming experience for both them and for the people on the team," Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary Club President Steve Sikorski said.

Hope Haven International and the local rotary clubs have been making the trip to Romania for eight years. And whether it's someone's first trip or their third, they say nothing will beat the smile of gratitude they receive after giving someone a new life in the form of four wheels.

Hope Haven International has a wheelchair warehouse inside the South Dakota State Penitentiary. 60 prisoners serve community service hours five days a week refurbishing the wheelchairs.
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