85-year-old-woman gets surprise wheels - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

85-year-old-woman gets surprise wheels

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Free power chair recipient Free power chair recipient
PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

Tonight a Peoria woman got the surprise of a lifetime from a disabled veteran.

That vet, Don Yarbrough - builds power chairs and scooters from spare parts and gives them away to others for free. 

We first introduced Yarbrough on Sunday, when we featured him in a story about his chair building hobby.  

The response to that story was incredible, so we did a followup to see his generosity in action.

At a fundraiser for Yarbrough's foundation 'Veterans Helping Veterans', an 85-year-old woman was overjoyed when she realized she was getting the free power chair. So overjoyed that she sat down in it and took her new wheels for a spin.

The woman's children were there to witness the special gift and they described it as priceless.

David Sturgis, the recipient's son said "She can't get around. She can still drive, but it takes everything she's got to walk and get around...because of her knees. So this will be a blessing. A big blessing." 

Sturgis' sister, Sandy Wiesehan echoed those sentiments. "She has a hard time getting up and even though she thinks that she's stronger than everybody, she can get up off the couch and get right into the chair and not worry about falling."

As for Yarbrough, giving the gift was equally emotional for him. He explained that the response he's received has been overwhelming. 

"When you guys ran this story on Sunday, we received literally over 35 power chairs and scooters donated", beamed the veteran. 

Turns out, in addition to scooters, Yarbrough received monetary donations to help him purchase tools.

 The biggest gift of all, however, was from a Morton man, who was so moved by Yarbrough's work that he gave him a patent that he'd been holding onto.

The patent, details how to create an accessory that allows the chairs to attach to any vehicle so it's owner can use it when they're out and about, as opposed to just around the house.

Yarbrough choked back tears when he explained that this was the missing piece of the puzzle he was trying to solve. 

Now he jokes that he has so many chairs, his new dilemma is getting batteries for them, a problem he says he is more than happy to have. 

If you'd like to donate or help Don and Tanya Yarbrough, they can be reached at duckie22@comcast.net or 309-689-0449 or 309-361-0637

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