Organizations: Friends of Disabled Adults and Children
When Ed Butchart was a Marine in Vietnam, he constructed a wheelchair for a young girl.
Later on during the 1980s, he began tinkering in his garage with wheelchairs. His project has since evolved into Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), which provides a variety of medical equipment – walkers, hospital beds, shower enhancements – at little or no cost to the disabled. Since 1986, the Stone Mountain-based nonprofit has distributed more than 35,000 wheelchairs, and it serves around 500 disabled children a year. It is the only accredited organization of its kind in Georgia, and it is one of the largest such operations in the country.
“We strive to enhance the quality of life for people of all ages who have any type of illness or physical disability, to help them feel more independent,” says Chris Brand, the current president and CEO of FODAC, which has a staff of 30. “It’s an amazing thing to see a family enter our shop with a child who has outgrown one wheelchair to get a bigger one from us.”
FODAC’s mission has grown to include more than just wheelchairs. At its 65,000-square-foot headquarters, the staff adapts vehicles for disabled clients and maintains a cache of equipment for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to use for facilities hit by natural disasters.
Most of the items are donated, and FODAC is funded by donations. There are 30 drop-off centers across Atlanta for gently used equipment, which the organization then repairs. The group partners with hospitals and coordinates a pipeline that distributes provisions across the Southeast. “We help other states use our model,” Brand says.