United today announced that it
is partnering with California nonprofit Wheels for Humanity on December 9
to deliver wheelchairs to disabled young athletes and children on its
inaugural flight to Vietnam. United’s Cargo division will move 48 wheelchairs on a space-available
basis to Vietnam, the first scheduled service of a U.S. carrier there in
nearly 30 years. Half the chairs will go to Vietnamese children stricken
with cerebral palsy, and the other half will be donated to disabled
athletes who are members of the Ho Chi Minh City Disabled Youth
“How we engage with the communities where we do business is very important
to us, and remains an integral part of our social investment strategy,”
says Sonya Jackson, director of Corporate Social Investment for United.
“We aim to make the world a better place for customers and employees to
live, work, travel, and do business.”
Wheels for Humanity spokesperson and ambassador David Hasselhoff will help
deliver the wheelchairs from San Francisco to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly
known as Saigon) on United’s inaugural flight to Vietnam. Says Hasselhoff,
“It is priceless to witness the smiles and joy of a child being liberated
through mobility.” Hasselhoff and his wife, Pamela, have been donating
their time to Wheels over the past two years, including escorting a
wheelchair mission to Costa Rica last year.
United’s community involvement is longstanding. In addition to shipping
wheelchairs around the world for Wheels for Humanity since 1997, employee
volunteerism and other types of corporate giving have been conducted by
the company for nearly 70 years.
In the past eight years, Wheels for Humanity has donated more than 20,000
wheelchairs to people in developing countries worldwide. Due to U.S.
medical laws against reusing wheelchairs in the States, the organization’s
Founder and Director David Richard saw a resource going to waste. He
decided to obtain wheelchair donations from organizations and individuals,
then completely rebuild, custom fit and deliver the rebuilt chairs to
those in need.
Richard is pleased with the sponsorship as well. “We really appreciate
United’s contribution to our wheelchair mission to Vietnam,” he says. “The
lives of Vietnamese people who would otherwise literally be carried,
reliant on wheelbarrows, or forced to crawl have been dramatically changed
by the gift of these wheelchairs.”