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Romina, 6, and her mom, Idalia.

More than 300 people attended the 2017 Wheels in Motion Gala at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles on September 9 – a record turnout for the event, which helps support UCP Wheels for Humanity’s (UCPW) work providing appropriately fitted wheelchairs to individuals in developing countries.

The undoubted star of the event was 6-year old, Romina, a recent recipient of a UCP Liberty pediatric wheelchair via a UCPW program in El Salvador. Romina, accompanied by her mother, Idalia, utterly charmed the audience with her knockout smile and a dance she performed to her favorite Disney song.

Born with spina bifida, Romina’s story might easily have been very different, had she not received a custom fitted wheelchair that enabled her to sit comfortably, reach the wheels and move around independently. That mobility enabled her family to enroll Romina in school, where her joyfulness and charisma quickly made her the most popular kid in class. Known throughout her community as simply, La Reina (Queen), Romina now loves to dance, act and take part in local town parades. Because of her lead, a second child who uses a wheelchair has enrolled at the school, and the local mayor has found funding to make the town more accessible to wheelchair users.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Ronald Cohen, CEO of UCPW, talked about the importance of mobility in ensuring people with disabilities are fully included in all aspects of life. “Without an appropriately fitted wheelchair, millions of people in the developing world can’t go to school, or work, or even leave the confines of their own homes. UNICEF estimates that a staggering 90%  of children with disabilities in the developing world do not go to school. That’s a tragic and  unacceptable situation.”

The event was sponsored by The Lawrence and Sandra Post Family Foundation, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, TruConnect, Premier Comprehensive Financial, KonnectOne, Tohu Entertainment and, for the twelfth year in a row, Boxing Cat Entertainment.

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