Plainfield student honored for customized wheelchairs

Tim Balz customizes motorized wheelchairs and donates them to those in need.

A central Indiana high school student is already gaining fame for his compassionate work in helping others.

When he's not in class, chances are you'll find Tim Balz in a workspace that's become his makeshift business office.

"This is where we take apart the chairs, repair the chairs, see what's wrong with them and we actually give them away at this unit," Balz said.

Balz is now regularly involved in repairing and customizing motorized wheelchairs, then donating them to those in need.

"It's kinda something I need to do and I feel it's kind of my calling at this point. Because I have a unique skill and have the ability to work on these and not everyone has that skill, so I feel it's my responsibility and I enjoy it," he said.

It all started when Balz and his fellow students at Plainfield High School fashioned a motorized chair for their classmate. It's a story Eyewitness News first told you about last May in "What's Cool in School."

Since then, Tim and his classmates have volunteered their time, providing 30 motorized chairs through their charitable organization called Freedom Chairs.

"The smile you get when you give someone a chair for the first time. It's the best feeling in the world, no matter how your day is, no matter what's going on. To put that smile on their face, you've changed someone's life and you realize anything that's bothering you means nothing," Balz said.

The effort began in the robotics class at Plainfield High School and has grown to fill two storage units nearby. The rare approach to serve those with special needs captured the attention of the Greater Indianapolis Red Cross.

Balz was one of 14 area residents honored during the Red Cross' annual Hall of Fame awards this month.

"I'm very happy to be standing up there with those other people, who I know have done such great things and I'm comparable to them in any way. I think is really, really cool," Balz said.

He said Freedom Chairs is now working on obtaining additional space at a nearby shopping mall that would allow them to build even more wheelchairs for the needy.