When Tim Balz was just 16 years old he founded Freedom Chairs of Indiana, a non-profit organization that provides refurbished electric wheelchairs and other medical equipment to those in need. The idea for Freedom Chairs began when Tim was working with Plainfield High School’s First Robotics Team. He saw that one of his handicapped classmates was struggling to get around and thought that maybe with his robotics skills he could help. Since it began in 2011, Freedom Chairs has given away 80 wheelchairs.
Now a college student, Tim balances his time between the nonprofit and his school work, working for Freedom Chairs during the weekends. All the time and energy are worth it for Tim. “Being able to use the skills that I learned through robotics to help someone is amazing. The smile on people’s faces makes it all worth it,” he says.
Although Tim recently received funding from 5 Hour Energy, the majority of the funds for Freedom Chairs were raised from generous individuals who were moved by the organizations goal. Tim also relies on his parents for support and on his high school robotics team which continues to do a majority of the technical work for Freedom Chairs. “Having such success with Freedom Chairs only reminds me of how blessed I am to be where I am, and how many people I have behind me to support me,” Tim says.
Tim’s ultimate goal is to start his own wheelchair company and design his own wheelchairs. The company would support and refer people who couldn’t afford wheelchairs to Freedom Chairs.
Tim encourages other STEM students to pursue their passions and help people too. “With STEM skills you can help people in a way that not everyone can,” he says. “Never let someone tell you that you can’t do something when you know that you can.”