Five Ways Wheelchair Users Can Raise or Save Money

Fundraising doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as a bake sale, or setting up a funding page. All you need is the right attitude, resources and a money-making idea. Finding creative ideas for financing a specific project takes a lot of commitment and work, but it can be done.

One of the best ways to go about fundraising is by following the example of others who have been successful in doing so. In our book, 10 Fundraising Ideas to Help People with Disabilities, you’ll hear about real-life examples from Wheel:Life members and disability advocates who have raised money through creative ideas and programs. Below, we have shared some of these ideas as excerpts from the book.

1. Motivational Speaking

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Leslie Ostrander is among the individuals in this book who raised her own money to support herself and cover her medical expenses. Ostrander says, “Life is hard but you can have an attitude that will make you more resilient. I don’t want to be a ‘good’ story. I want to give you some things I’ve learned that helped me out.” Leslie was determined to raise money after becoming paralyzed in a car accident at age 4. As an adult, she looked for ways to be independent, and began earning a living through motivational speaking and book writing.

2. Become Your Own Boss

If motivational speaking isn’t for you, create your own business and become your own boss. There are endless opportunities available when it comes to running a business. is the brainchild of Jerry O'Brien. It's a place where people can find disability-friendly services and resources. is the brainchild of Jerry O’Brien. It’s a place where people can find disability-friendly services and resources.

Take Pat Dougherty for example. Dougherty engineered a new product called FreeWheel that can attach to the front end of a wheelchair, making it easier to get around. “As the design progressed and word got out, I have had wheelchair users from all over the world asking for the FreeWheel and testing it in all environments,” explained Dougherty.

Pat Dougherty explains FreeWheel to a new fan at a recent Abilities Expo.
Pat Dougherty explains FreeWheel to a new fan at a recent Abilities Expo.

For others who wish to work from home and need a little guidance, companies such as Avon and Mary Kay could be a good choice for helping you with training, set up and support.

3. Join a Cause for Someone You Love

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Inspiring young entrepreneurs everywhere are 11-year-old Emma Grimsley and her best friend, Anna. With the help of Emma’s parents, these two young ladies set-up the nonprofit Rolling Hearts. Rolling Hearts helps benefit people in their community who have spina bifida,  like Emma’s brother does. On the nonprofit’s website, Emma has t-shirt and headband designs for purchase, among other products. Anna says, “We would like to try a lemonade stand or a bake sale to help raise money.” Emma chimes in with, “Bumper stickers and other things like that would be good too!”

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Like many people, Chris Salas had trouble coming up with an idea to revitalize his career after being paralyzed. But, after volunteering at Warm Springs where he provided transportation to other wheelchair users, inspiration finally hit him, and he decided to join the Warm Springs Rehab Hospital’s mentoring program, known as Rolling Inspiration.

“And it wasn’t about what the patient got from me. It was more the other way around,” Salas explains. “That personal connection and level of understanding is one that only people with spinal cord injury can relate to.” Rolling Inspiration was created as a support organization to help people to stop existing and start living.

chris salas and bert

“Too many SCI survivors are doing that – just surviving,” Chris says. “There are so many people that have the potential to not just survive but thrive. That’s where our peer mentoring steps in to introduce those that are ‘successful’ to those who are just going through the motions.”

4. Turn to the Web

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Many people have heard of, where you can create an account and raise money for a new wheelchair or even a medical procedure. Sites like this have helped a lot of people raise money for ome modifications, equipment or care, and it can help you too. It’s as simple as creating an account online, and then sharing it with your friends by word-of-mouth or social media.

You can also use social media as a platform if you decide to create your own nonprofit, or host a fundraising event. Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, making your event/organization easy to find and spreading the word through these channels can help you not only get the word out, but can also help you recruit volunteers.

One thing to keep in mind when sharing your fundraisers via social media is this: DON’T post your links on pages without asking permission first, and consider the audience where you are sharing your cause. If they are in the same boat as you, chances are they need financial assistance too. So asking that group of other wheelchair users for financial assistance probably won’t give you the results you are hoping for.

5. Building Your Savings with Digit

imagesRaising money has its own complications, and saving the money you make comes with its own frustrations. Luckily, there’s a company that creates an automatic savings account for you. This company is known as Digit. Digit keeps up with your spending habits, and then every weekday uses your account balance, upcoming income, recent spending and bills to find a small amount of money that you don’t need, and then puts that money in savings for you.

To sign up for Digit, go to

Learn More

For more details on fundraising ideas, download your copy of 10 Fundraising Ideas to Help People with Disabilities at Amazon’s Kindle bookstore. The book retails for $1.99, and proceeds from the book go toward funding additional Wheel:Life programs for the community we serve.

Purchase your copy at:

If you have a disability and are facing a financial challenge, you can request a free copy of this book at:

Book 1


Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice.


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