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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/07/30/cnnheroes.blad.blauser/art.brad.blauser.jpg caption="Since 2005, Brad Blauser's Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids program has distributed nearly 650 free wheelchairs."]
Brad Blauser lives in war-torn Baghdad, where he doesn't earn a paycheck and is thousands of miles from his family. But he has no intention of leaving anytime soon.
For the past four years, the Dallas, Texas, native has been providing hope to hundreds of disabled Iraqi children and their families through the distribution of pediatric wheelchairs.
"Disabled children - they're really the forgotten ones in this war," said Blauser, 43. "They are often not seen in society."
Blauser arrived in Iraq as a civilian contractor in 2004, but quit that job last year to devote himself full time to his program, without compensation.
"There's no paycheck. It's not really safe here. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.
An estimated one in seven Iraqi children ages 2 to 14 lives with a disability, according to UNICEF. Illnesses such as Spina bifida, palsy and polio leave them unable to walk.
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