Everyday Heroes

Pawn Shop Owner Gives Motorized Wheelchairs to People with Disabilities

When he saw how many people needed the chairs but couldn't afford them, he got to work.


You never know what you'll find in a pawn shop. Vietnam War veteran Philip Pavone knows this better than most. He runs the A-Z Pawn Shop in Norwich, CT and he's used to making treasure out of other people's trash.

Over a decade ago, he came upon a few motorized wheelchairs in his shop. It was around the holiday season, so when they didn't sell he decided to put an ad in the paper to see if anyone needed one. He ended up getting 60 letters from people with disabilities asking for the chairs.

"At that moment, I realized how many people out there were suffering," Pavone told InspireMore . "Some of the people writing to me hadn't left their homes for months, even years at a time. Many were elderly and had no one to help them."

Check out one of Pavone's donations in action...

After giving away the chairs to people who needed them, Pavone started buying and collecting motorized chairs and restoring them. He put out a call to the community asking for anyone who had chairs lying around that weren't being used to let him know.

After a while, Pavone's project started taking off and the A-Z Pawn Shop annual "Gift of Mobility" holiday donation drive was born. Its goal was to outfit 100 people in need with a motorized chair. Since he started the project, he's been able to give away 580 wheelchairs. This year, the chairs will be given away at an event on December 1st at the Norwich Holiday Inn.

Through his project he's been able to help fellow veterans, children and even a Holocaust survivor.

"Once we give these chairs to people and see how grateful they are, the tears and the hugging and kissing, I know we're making a difference," he said.

Pavone's activism for the disabled doesn't stop with the chairs. He's started a GoFundMe campaign to further his cause, and he's been working with local lawmakers to encourage insurance companies to cover the costs of the motorized chairs.

The chairs aren't one size fits all, so Pavone (pictured below with a woman he helped) asks that people who contact him provide him with other details like their size, weight, type of disability, etc. so they can find the right fit for them.

Pavone, who's a cancer survivor, knows how life-changing a gift like this can be.

"These chairs are a chance for people to do normal things again," said Pavone. "These chairs are independence."

To donate to the Gift of Mobility GoFundMe campaign, click here .

When is the last time you dropped what you were doing and pitched in to help someone who needed it? Wednesday November 13 is World Kindness Day. Why not look for ways to be of service, and #StartSomethingGood on that day - or any day?

(Source: images & video AZ Pawn Shop Facebook )

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