Nonprofit home medical equipment organization launches in Savannah with music fest at Coach’s Corner

'The Wheelchair Guy' Ed Butchart and another volunteer fixing a wheelchair for a client.

Credit: Courtesy FODAC

Credit: Courtesy FODAC

'The Wheelchair Guy' Ed Butchart and another volunteer fixing a wheelchair for a client.

Nearly 2.5 million Americans rely on durable home medical equipment or HME. In recent years the price of medical costs has skyrocketed, with the average American spending more $12,000 a year. This number is even more ominous when you consider 13% of Georgia’s population is on disability.

To put it into perspective, of the disabled population, 130,000 residents have dementia and 70% of them can't afford their home medical equipment. In rural communities where there is limited access to hospitals, the need is even greater. Thankfully the Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, FODAC, have been working hard to form a bridge between the disabled community and access to affordable HME.

FODAC founder Ed Butchart (right) assisting a client of the organization.

Credit: Courtesy of FODAC

icon to expand image

Credit: Courtesy of FODAC

‘The wheelchair guy’

It all started with Ed Butchart.

In 1985, Butchart was an active member of the Mount Carmel Christian Church, near Stone Mountain, Georgia. While performing community service, he came across a man with a broken wheelchair. Being a handy guy from his days in the U.S. Marines, he took the wheelchair back to his garage and fixed it up for him.

Seeing the problems his neighbors faced with basic accessibility and mobility, Butchart realized how he could help his community. He began repairing medical equipment by dumpster diving and pulling medical equipment that would have otherwise wound up in a landfill. Soon Butchart and his late wife Annie branched out from the garage and into bigger territory as the church made him a structure on the property for him to work.

From his humble beginnings as “the wheelchair guy,” Butchart and Annie founded FODAC, which has grown into one of the largest resources for Americans with disabilities. Today it is even bigger, assisting with aid in 82 other countries, including Ukraine where they were able to donate three ambulances to assist in aiding the war-stricken country. FODAC works closely with disaster relief programs to be an early and reliable resource for this equipment.

They work with FEMA, GEMA, Texas emergency management, and have plans to create partnerships with South Carolina and Alabama’s disaster and emergency relief programs and are a member of National VOAD, voluntary organizations active in disaster. FODAC has donated more than 50,000 wheelchairs, kept 400 tons of metal and plastic out of landfills, and last year provided $4 million of medical equipment to people in need.

Joseph Smith (center) flanked by his sisters. He has been a client of FODAC’s since he was 18 months old.

Credit: Courtesy of FODAC

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Credit: Courtesy of FODAC

Today, the company is run by Chris Brand who took over for Butchart in 2001. Brand had firsthand experience at a young age in dealing with the daily challenges of mobility as his childhood best friend/ adoptive brother, Greg, had muscular dystrophy. Unfortunately, Greg passed away around Christmas when Brand was a teenager, inspiring him to want to work in the medical field.

Being close with Brand’s family, Butchart’s company was a great place for Chris to volunteer and gain experience in working in the field. Three years after Brand had become president of FODAC, on December 25, Annie Butchart passed away. Brand recalls the many times that when providing HME to people in need they claim that it feels like Christmas, and for them, it is a way to honor both Greg and Annie.

Tickets to the Alzheimer’s Music Fest

FODAC is branching out now, bringing its services to the Savannah Metro Area, where 38% of the 65+ and older population lives with a disability. As part of the Alzheimer's Music Fest, 5 to 10 p.m., Sept. 23, at Coach's Corner, 3016 E. Victory Drive, Thunderbolt, FODAC will be celebrating the soft launch of its Savannah hub. At the celebration, rock group Cracker will be performing with Stewart and Winfield, Thomas Claxton, and Anne-Marie Perry. Brand and FODAC volunteers will be available to answer questions about the organization and its work in Savannah.

Tickets cost between $40-$100 and are available at eventbrite.com

If you or someone you know needs HME or would like a repair to their current HME you can call their number 770-491-9014 or submit a request on the website, fodac.org.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Nonprofit home medical equipment organization launches in Savannah with music fest at Coach’s Corner


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