Last month, 54-year-old Margarito Machuguay who, at 7’6”, is Peru’s tallest man, carried the spirit of the Pan American Games as a member of the 2019 Torch Relay from Machu Pichu to Lima. Margarito was able to make this journey with the support of his customized wheelchair that was made available through a Plena Global sponsorship in 2018.
Thanks to his size and friendly demeanour, Margarito became something of a regional celebrity in the 1990’s, making guest appearances on talk shows and in commercials. Nowadays, Margarito spends his time assisting people living with physical impairments in his hometown of Bagua Grande. However, he too lives with an impairment. Due in part to his size and age, Margarito suffers from arthropathy, a condition which causes him a great deal of pain and severely limits his mobility, making it difficult for him to stand or walk for any length of time or distance.
In July 2018, Plena Global’s Dr. Dave Hepburn met with Margarito in Bagua Grande. There Dr. Hepburn learned of Margarito’s work to help others living with severe and debilitating conditions, as well as the health issues he himself faced.Dr. Hepburn also learned that many years earlier, Margarito had been promised a customized wheelchair that would accommodate his unusual dimensions. It never came. Touched by Margarito’s compassion and concern for others, Dr. Hepburn offered to have a chair built for him. On his return to Canada, Dr. Hepburn relayed this story to Plena Global CEO Richard Zwicky, who promptly offered to have Plena Global cover the entire cost of designing and building the wheelchair. Over the next three months, the world’s largest motorized wheelchair was constructed in Lima, Peru where, in November of 2018, Margarito, accompanied by his 11-year-old son, made a 22-hour bus trip to receive and trial this new chair.
One year after first meeting Dr. Hepburn, Margarito was able to make his 100m journey carrying the Pan American Torch, thanks in part to his brand-new set of wheels. Without the wheelchair, he would not have been able to participate.
If you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Hepburn and Plena Global’s work with Margarito, visit our page on Corporate Social Responsibility.