American dreamer in China

By Wang Ru(China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-15

American dreamer in China

Stuffed animal specimens at the Tianjin Nature Museum have been donated by Kenneth E.Behring, an honorary citizen of Tianjin. [Photo/China Daily]

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Behring made some money, and more importantly, built close connections with a number of potential clients. When the snowstorms ended, many of them went to his dealership to buy cars.

"Walking out of the fixed mindset and learning to create opportunities in difficulty are very important," Behring wrote in his autobiography. "When the majority faced the same problem, it meant that there could be a business opportunity if you were able to solve it."

After establishing a successful car dealership, Behring moved to Florida to develop his real estate business. In 1962, based on his innovative idea to build a community for retirees, a new city named Tamarac was established.

A decade later, Behring moved to San Francisco's Bay Area and started to develop the Blackhawk, a luxury community famous for its world-class golf course.

Behring truly embodied the American dream, but despite all his wealth, he was unhappy.

In 1999, after witnessing the poor hospital conditions in some African countries, he was inspired to help charity organizations transport relief goods on his private jet.

In a Romanian village, when an old man who had lost his legs received a wheelchair from Behring, he cried in gratitude. He said that he could finally leave home and smoke with his neighbors.

"It was the first time I realized that such a small thing like a wheelchair could change one's life, bringing them freedom and courage to live," Behring recalls.

In June 2000, Behring announced the establishment of the Wheelchair Foundation, and set up a goal to donate one million wheelchairs globally.

In 2001, Behring established a partnership with the China Disabled Persons' Federation to help distribute wheelchairs in China.

Since then, Behring has distributed more than 325,000 wheelchairs in more than 40 cities and towns in China to disabled people including 500 survivers of the Tangshan Earthquake in 1976.

Despite an outbreak of SARS in China in 2003, Behring came to the country as planned to donate wheelchairs.

Behring received many letters of thanks from people who received his wheelchairs that gave them the confidence to change their lives, he says.

Xie Yanhong, a man from Dalian, Liaoning province, received a wheelchair from Behring in 2003.

With the wheelchair, Xie, who loved to swim, started to chase his dream. In August 2003, he became the first disabled Chinese person to swim across the English Channel.

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