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Volume 8, No. 2FALL 2005

IOCC, Wheelchair Foundation and NBA
Champion team up in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Milenko Djurasinovic, President of the Novi Grad Paraplegic Association, receives a wheelchair at the distribution in Banja Luka. Forty-nine years old, he has suffered from paraplegia since he was 15. Photos: IOCC-Bosnia-Herzegovina

Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina (IOCC) — Rasho Nesterovic, Center for the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) San Antonio Spurs, has a lot to celebrate.

After his team’s victory in the NBA finals earlier this summer, Nesterovic has garnered another championship off the court — in the hearts of nearly 300 disabled people in Bosnia-Herzegovina. His generosity assured them new wheelchairs as part of a $40,000 project.

In a unique partnership between IOCC, the Wheelchair Foundation and Nesterovic, as well as the “Dystrophy Union” (a local organization currently heading the Union of Associations of the Disabled in Bosnia-Herzegovina), a shipment containing 280 wheelchairs was sent to Bosnia-Herzegovina and distributed in June and July.

Participating in IOCC’s growing Gifts-in-Kind program, the Wheelchair Foundation donated the wheelchairs and had them transported to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Through IOCC’s relationships with local non-governmental organizations, identification of recipients and a distribution plan was formulated.

In addition to providing the wheelchairs, three-month vocational training courses were organized for some of the recipients in order to enhance their vocational and career development opportunities. But in order to bring the project to fruition, Nesterovic, as he has often done in his seven year NBA career, stepped up to the charity line and delivered. His donation provided the necessary funds for the in-country transportation and distribution of the wheelchairs as well as paying for the vocational training.

This successful Gifts-in-Kind project has also led to another $40,000 collaborative effort between IOCC, the Wheelchair Foundation and the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society. With funding provided by Philoptochos, another container of 280 wheelchairs will be purchased and sent to the Republic of Georgia. Working in partnership with the Georgian Ministry of Health, and other local non-governmental agencies, IOCC and its partners will once again assure appropriate distribution of the wheelchairs and implement vocational training.

These two initial efforts with the Wheelchair Foundation, together with contributions from dedicated Orthodox Christians, will touch over 450 physically challenged people in two countries and total over $80,000.

Seven year old Djordje Volas, whose legs have been paralyzed since birth, receives his wheelchair. This Fall, he will start attending a school for children with special needs.

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