Civic Duty Charity Nominates Charles Monson for CNN Hero Award

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After a surfing accident left him a quadriplegic, Charles Monson founded Wheels of Mercy to refurbish and customize used wheelchairs and donate them to individuals who need them. Civic Duty, a non-profit created to promote people who are affecting positive change in the world, is honored to nominate Charles Monson for the CNN Hero Award.

Civic Duty, co-founded by Michael Omidi, M.D. and Julian Omidi, is honored to nominate Charles Monson for the CNN Hero Award. “Charles is a truly inspirational figure. He has endured tragic loss, triumphed over adversity and found a true purpose in life,” says Dr. Michael Omidi. The CNN Hero Award shines a spotlight on individuals making a difference through their extraordinary humanitarian efforts, which is also the founding mission of Civic Duty.

Sixteen-year-old Charles Monson faced a critical life decision when a surfing accident left him a quadriplegic. He faced a hard choice: he could do nothing and think about being in a wheelchair as an insurmountable obstacle, or he could help himself by helping others. After a long journey of physical, emotional and spiritual recovery, Charles founded Wheels of Mercy in 2003.

“We literally can't walk a mile in his shoes. We'd have to roll a mile in his path, then accept the reality of the situation and make the best of it. It is a challenge that would break most of us,” says Julian Omidi.

The mission of Wheels of Mercy is to collect the 30-40 million wheelchairs that do nothing more than collect dust all across the country, repair and refurbish them, and give them to people who need but cannot afford them. “During my time conducting in-home wheelchair evaluations, I witnessed what became a predictable pattern. Every user we evaluated for a new wheelchair had two or three of their previous wheelchairs in storage. Most of these wheelchairs were in highly serviceable condition, and doing nothing more than collecting dust. Not only were they in good condition, but most were highly customized to meet involved needs,” explains Charles Monson.

A wheelchair has the power to transform lives. Charles was moved to tears by a donation to seven year old Javier who was born unable to walk. Javier lived a sad, lonely life in an upstairs apartment without an elevator. He was ostracized and often abandoned by his family. The only wheelchair available was an ill-fitting adult model at school. After Charles outfitted Javier with a custom-fit wheelchair, the boy was grateful but still a bit of a lost soul. Then Charles revealed a surprise for the boy – a special walker which Javier could use to pull himself upright and stand at full height for the first time in his life. The look of renewed light in Javier's eyes was a gift from above.

Recognition is far down the list of priorities and values for Charles Monson. The disabled community faces many challenges to daily living which the rest of us take for granted. The situation outside of the United States is sadly far worse. Even more remarkable is the fact that Charles has never had a true budget to support his efforts through Wheels of Mercy. Charles appreciates and admires CNN, and he would be honored to become a CNN Hero which would greatly help his worthy cause and make a tangible difference in millions of lives.    Charles acknowledges, “I was graced by clarity of purpose and vision, and with the help of many wonderful volunteers, Wheels of Mercy was born. His motto: “Attitude is everything.”

ABOUT THE CNN HEROES AWARD:
For the past six years, CNN has honored everyday people who are changing the world with the CNN Heroes Award to raise awareness of their life saving work. Each year, CNN broadcasts the “CNN Heroes: All Star Tribute” awards show hosted by Anderson Cooper and popular celebrities to recognize the year's Top Ten CNN Heroes. Each Top Ten Nominee receives a $50,000 grant for their extraordinary efforts to improve the lives of others. The show culminates with the announcement of the CNN Hero of the Year. That person, one of the Top Ten Heroes, is selected by online voting results at CNN.com. He or she will receive an additional $250,000 to continue their work. Click here to learn more about the CNN Heroes Award

MORE ABOUT WHEELS OF MERCY:
Wheels of Mercy (http://www.wheelsofmercy.org) was founded in 2003 by Charles Monson, himself a quadriplegic, who decided that he would collect unused wheelchairs and give them to people in need. Prior to distribution, all of the wheelchairs are refurbished to like-new condition and many are customized to suit the special needs of the users since a wheelchair that is poorly formed can actually encourage spinal deformities and sores.

MORE ABOUT CIVIC DUTY:
Civic Duty (http://www.civicduty.org) is dedicated to mankind’s search for meaning and promotes the values of its founders, philanthropists Julian Omidi and his brother Dr. Michael Omidi. The charity’s mission is to inspire creative outreach, community service, and volunteerism through the stories of every-day people who are making an extraordinary difference in the world.    Mahatma Gandhi once said that, “Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow men.” To get involved and help make a difference, please send a message using the website’s Contact Us function. More information about Civic Duty can be found on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter.

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