WEBSTER, N.Y. (WROC) — What started as a Webster family’s idea to help a loved one, has now changed the lives of thousands.
Bella’s Bumbas is a non-for-profit that makes wheelchairs for children across the world. The business was created in 2017.
“We started this when my niece Bella was born. She was born with Spina Bifida and we knew she was going to have difficulty with trying to maneuver and get around,” said Martin Parzynski, who makes parts for the wheelchairs.
Parzynski said Bella, who is paralyzed from the knees down, couldn’t crawl or really sit up. Parzynski’s wife started searching online and found some prints of a miniature wheelchair and he decided he’d make one for Bella.
“When they offered to give her some kind of a mobility device, we were all for it,” said Jeffrey Shorr, Bella’s dad. “When we actually came to pick her up and saw her and the chair that they built, it was just amazing.”
Shorr said the wheelchair gave Bella more freedom, allowing her to move around by herself and play with other kids, something she wasn’t always able to do.
“Before the first chair was built for Bella, it was really a situation where we had to pick her up and move her from location to location. So she wasn’t able to interact with any of her peers or siblings, they had to come to her,” Storr said.
“With the chair, she’s able to move around and interact socially and she’s at eye level with her peers at the time. It was really just nice to have the freedom that she had getting around on her own when she wanted to.”
After seeing how the wheelchair changed Bella’s life, Parzynski and his wife decided to expand their efforts and make chairs for other children.
“Five years later, we’re over 2000 chairs,” Parzynski said. “We never anticipated this kind of growth over the five years. I never imagined it would be what we’re doing today.”
Bella’s Bumbas has now sent chairs to 62 countries, serving thousands of families.
“We have folks who have taken them on vacation overseas and have delivered them to families in need,” Parzynski said. “My wife has developed quite the network on how to get chairs out there. We just sent 10 to Australia.”
Shorr adds they have close to 6,500 families on their Facebook group that have either had a chair for the child or want to be involved in their efforts. To keep up with demand, they are often making a wheelchair a day.
“It’s something that we never fathom in our wildest imagination that we would be international, especially something that started here in Webster and just a family-run, little endeavor,” Shorr said.
The wheelchairs, which are completely free to families, come with an agreement that families will not just get rid of them after they’re done using them.
“After their child outgrows it or is done using it, they’ll pass it along either to a physical therapist that their child uses, who can then repurpose it to another child, or give it to a children’s hospital in their area,” Shorr said.
Since the wheelchairs are free, Bella’s Bumbas relies on donations to help support their cause and families. They also rely on the generosity and hard work of their volunteers, who make their efforts possible.
You can find ways to donate to Bella’s Bumbas, or order a wheelchair, by clicking here.