NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) – A well-known motorized wheelchair donation program in Norwich is coming to an end.
Phil Pavone, who owns A-Z Pawn Show in Norwich has given away nearly 900 motorized wheelchairs over the years. He gets the wheelchairs, fixes them up, puts new batteries in them, and then gives them to people who need them. These are chairs people might not otherwise be able to afford.
He has changed a lot of lives, but because of his own health problems, Pavone needs to end this program. He says it’s heartbreaking for him because he knows how many people still need these chairs. It’s also heartbreaking for the people he has helped and those he could have helped.
Having a motorized wheelchair has given Kim Shafer of Mystic her independence.
She can now come out to her Koi pond whenever she wants.
“Without it I would not come out here by myself because I always have that fear of falling,”said Shafer.
She is one of more than 900 people who have received a motorized wheelchair from Phil Pavone who owns A-Z Pawn in Norwich.
“I said I can have a life,” said Robbie Drummer of Norwich. She has also received a motorized wheelchair from Pavone.
He has bought batteries for and fixed donated wheelchairs and then has given them away for free.
“I was just so filled with the grace of God sending this guy to help us,” said Drummer.
“This person has no legs. This person is paralyzed from the waist down,” said Pavone, who showed News 8 the pile of applications he’s received for one of his chairs.
But now Pavone who owns A-Z Pawn in Norwich has health issues himself and can no longer continue his wheelchair giveaway program. He’s hoping the state or someone else will take over.
“This is taking chairs that are unused, unwanted, gathering them together, and handing them out,” said Pavone. “It’s pretty simple.”
The wheelchairs on one side of his storage room are all fixed and ready to go. Some have even been matched up with people.
But on the other side of the room, the chairs are still in need of repair so if there is anyone who wants to pick up where Phil is leaving off they have a stock to start with.
“They could have the inmates at the prisons put these things together and fix them. No cost to the state,” said Pavone.
He has lobbied for this but as his efforts end, he sees no help for those who still need it.
“I’m gonna miss you,” said Drummer who began crying. “I’m going to miss you.”