HONOLULU, Hawaii – Raymond Tavita was born with spina bifida. It helped when Shriners’ surgeons corrected his foot deformity.
“I got surgery to make sure that the foot itself stayed planted. Now there’s nails in my foot that keep my toes and my feet flat,” he said.
It made it easier to walk short distances but didn’t remove his reliance on a wheelchair. In 2017, he was shocked when someone stole his main source of mobility.
State Rep. John Mizuno shared his story and the public responded.
“A few weeks later we had over 25 donated wheelchairs, a couple electronic wheelchairs at that,” he said. Tavita got two of the donated wheelchairs. The others were given to people with physical disabilities, and it sparked an idea.
“I realized that it became a service that I could provide for people,” Tavita said.
Now he’s starting a non-profit called “The Ohana You Don’t See.”
He’s asking for people to donate wheelchairs they no longer need so he can get them to disabled people who can put them to use.
“I have a person that can repair these, so even if it’s broken we’re just asking for any type of wheelchair that we could get for the community, so we can go ahead and distribute it out,” he said.
With Mizuno’s help, Tavita is securing space where donated wheelchairs can be stored and repaired.
If you have a wheelchair to donate, call Mizun’s office at 586-6050.
“We’ll be happy to help with the donations, making sure there’s storage for those wheelchairs that are donated,” he said.
Tavita is starting with wheelchairs but he wants to help the physically disabled in other areas so they can feel what he felt when people rallied around him.
“It made me feel alive like I was being seen,” he said.