Saving Lives, One Candy Bar at a Time

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- For the last 20 years Mark Grantham has dedicated his life to raising funds for the five children he sponsors in Africa and India.

So far he has sold 30,000 chocolate bars -- all from his wheelchair on the side of the road.

His amazing story has just been published, in the book The Chocolate Seller of Broadway and His Kids which was written by his father, Chris Grantham.

Grantham is well known to many people who live and work in the Auckland suburb of Newmarket. He has been selling chocolate for nearly 17 years. He has cerebral palsy and the reason why he has been selling bars of chocolate is because of his generosity to others.

Grantham does not raise this money for himself, he gives it away -- to five children who depend on him for their survival. Two of the children live in Tanzania, Africa and three live in Mumbai, India. They are all sponsored by Grantham, through World Vision.

Despite his disability, he has travelled to both places.

"I suppose I'm like a dad to them," he said.

Grantham is very aware that he has only been able to take up these opportunities because of the support he receives from his family, friends, and his personal assistants.

"I have to rely on them to get me up, toilet, shower me, feed me, bath me -- the works," he said.

The word "no" does not really apply to him. He has pushed boundaries all his life. And his family has supported him all the way -- giving him every chance to live his life to the fullest.

"I have to be quite thankful to our Heavenly Father for giving me such good parents," Grantham said. "I couldn't do it without Chris or Joce and Rachel and Nathan. And when I go through hard times they're always there."

Grantham has already achieved more than many people could ever hope to achieve in a lifetime. And it is easy to forget that he does have a severe disability. Everything he does requires a great deal of determination and courage on his part. He does it all for his sponsored children.

"I am really happy for what I am doing because the Lord's really placed it on my heart to go," Grantham said.

Dr. Matthew Farrant has been a long-time friend to Grantham. He was also part of the team which traveled with him to India.

"The irony of this book is it's about a man who literally can't feed himself, who sells chocolate to us, so that we can feed him ourselves, so that he can feed the world," Farrant said.

Colin Prentice is the former head of World Vision New Zealand, and has known Grantham for many years.

"Mark Grantham is a hero," Prentice said. "Not just because of the 15-hour operation he has survived to relieve the compression on his spine. Not just because of his perseverance and sacrificial giving to World Vision. But because from his wheelchair he is changing the world. Each day another child will eat because a disabled young man, thousands of kilometers from Africa and Asia, has taken a stand."

Prentice called Grantham a living testament to the words of author E.E. Hale.

"I'm only one, but I am one," Prentice quoted. "I can't do everything, but I can do something and I won't let what I can't do, stop me from doing what I can do."

So after 17 years, is Grantham going to continue selling chocolate for his sponsored children?

"Too right," Grantham affirmed. "Until my dying day.  God is reaching out through me to them."

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