In the 1970’s, Rotary Club of Portland appointed a committee to survey the community for projects and needs. What came of that survey? Wheels of Power


The report came out in June of 1978 and in part said that “In the immediate Portland area there are scores of men, women, and children confined to wheelchairs. Some of these are temporary confinements. But many are long range or even permanent. Birth defects, accidents, and disease put men, women, and children in this category.”

“Manual wheel chairs are available from a number of sources” the report said. “Unfortunately the accident or disease that makes a chair necessary doesn’t stop with disabling of the legs, the back, or even the arms. By paralysis, weakening, or lack of control or coordination, the victim has no power of movement or means of controlling where he or she is going.”

The projects committee proposed that we address the problem and endeavor to supply as many power wheelchairs as possible through the “Wheels of Power” program.

Ken Bement, our President in 1976-1977 agreed to be Chairman of the Wheels of Power Committee. Ken remained involved with the program from 1978 until his death in 1998. Ken was the shepherd, the steward, the heart of the program, and his spirit keeps it rolling.

The first chair was delivered in 1978. Since then, more than 650 chairs have been provided at a cost of over $2 million. The impact on individuals affected and their families has been immeasurable.

“Free at last” that’s how one of the Wheels of Power recipients, Sharon Fradenburg expressed it. “You have changed my life. My world is so much larger since the arrival of my new scooter. Every time I turn the key, a smile comes over my face. I can now go places and have the opportunities to meet and develop new friendships, but most of all to be a part of a community. Thank you for your kindness and generosity.”