Ed Kane and Bob Shea know what it is like to have a disease that renders you unable to move. When that happens, expensive — sometimes exorbitantly so — medical equipment can be the only thing that allows you to get out of bed at all. Medical insurance often covers only part of the equipment’s cost so people are left in a lurch. Kane, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, found that out firsthand when insurance provided $2,500 toward a $30,000 “complex” wheelchair. He used retirement funds to pay for the chair, but for an elderly person on a fixed income, the cost of a cane or walker — not to mention the price of a wheelchair — can eat into money for prescriptions or food. Even when insurance does cover the cost of equipment, it can sometimes take months before the person receives it. Thirteen years ago Shea was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome and spent seven months in the hospital paralyzed. As evidence of that time, Shea has the intubation scar in the center of his lower neck. During the eight months of his recovery, Shea became aware of the simple things mobile people take for granted that can be huge hurdles for those with disabilities, like bathtubs without grab bars or a one-inch lip on a threshold. Because of their experiences and understanding, the two men, who are parishioners at St. Mary of the Woods Parish, 7033 N. Moselle Ave., recently founded Devices 4 the Disabled, a nonprofit lending closet located at St. Phillip Neri Parish (2132 E. 72nd St.) that provides free durable medical equipment to those in need. They call themselves a “lending closet” because if a person no longer needs the equipment, they ask that they return it to them so it can be used by someone else. All equipment is sanitized before distribution. Shea is a full-time volunteer at Rainbow Hospice, which has offered to help facilitate donations from patients to the non-profit. After a person dies, the medical equipment left behind can become a painful reminder for survivors. Now patients can ask that their equipment be used for others after their passing. “Their medical equipment, even after they pass, will be touching someone else’s life,” Shea said. “So, to them, they’re creating a legacy.” Pickens-Kane Movers is helping the group deliver equipment. Some of the items Devices 4 the Disabled is looking for are wheelchairs, scooters, lifts, chairs for the bathtub, walkers and any other equipment that lasts over time. St. Gertrude Parish on the North Side and the St. Vincent de Paul Society also operate medical- equipment lending services in the city. For information or to donate durable medical equipment, write to Devices 4 the Disabled, 5697 W. Touhy Ave., Suite 151, Niles, IL 60610 or visit supportd4d.org.