Pawn Shop Owner has Donated 580 Motorized Wheelchairs to People in Need

Phil Pavone owns a pawn shop in Norwich, Connecticut. It’s called AZ Pawn. Now, in addition to being a businessman, he’s practically created his own nonprofit.

It all started one year during the holiday season when two motorized wheelchairs in his shop didn’t sell. Instead of having them continue to take up room, he decided to see if anyone wanted them for free. He advertised in the paper and to his shock, received 60 inquiries about the chairs.

Each story was different, but each individual was unable to get a chair on their own. Some of these people had cancer, some had Osteogenesis Imperfecta, and some were veterans.

Phil, wishing he could help everyone, immediately went out to buy as many more chairs as he could afford. He donated 6 chairs that year.

That was 9 years ago.

“The Gift of Mobility”

Phil has now dedicated a good portion of his life to refurbishing motorized wheelchairs for those in need. In the last 9 years he’s given away 580 chairs, 100 of which were given away just this month. To keep with tradition, they’re always distributed during the holidays. He calls the operation “AZ Pawn’s Gift of Mobility.”

Over the years, word spread about his operation. He’s helped people from all walks of life and various backgrounds. He’s given a chair to a Holocaust survivor. Phil now has the assistance of a team of volunteers, including his brother, helping him collect and fix the chairs. He’s also supported by many donors. However, it’s never enough to fill the need; and Phil has used up to 18,000 dollars of his own money in a single year to get chairs to as many people as possible.

Just a year before this operation started, Phil was diagnosed with cancer himself. His passion is partly fueled by this life experience which showed him that sometimes you have to rely on the kind hearts of others.

“That was the first time in my life that I’d been so sick, that I had to ask people to help me,” Pavone said. “So I know how these people feel.”

Meet a Recipient

Phil is careful to always make sure that the chair he’s working on fits the needs of its recipient. Bob Palmer is one of the individuals who has benefited from Phil’s work.

Bob has Osteogenesis Imperfecta. The illness causes brittle bones and makes him practically bedridden. Unfortunately, he can’t afford to rent a motorized wheelchair. But Phil has given him the freedom of mobility. Bob now travels miles in his chair- out to dinner, and even to the gym. Since he uses them so often, he wears the chairs out quickly and over the last 6 years, Phil has provided him 5 chairs.

The operation has truly changed Bob’s life, and the life of 579 other individuals.

“The “Gift of Mobility” is the gift of freedom.”

You can read Phil Pavone’s full story and more about the “Gift of Mobility” here.


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