Local Volunteers Clean Wheelchairs

By Patrick McCreless

Holli Griffin uses a brush to scrub the grime away from a wheelchair wheel. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)Even wheelchairs sometimes need a tuneup.

Volunteers were on hand for a special wheelchair wash event at the Children’s Rehabilitation Service in Anniston Tuesday. The volunteers cleaned and repaired wheelchairs for area children and adults for free through most of the day. Along with employees from Children’s Rehabilitation, members of East Central Alabama United Cerebral Palsy and employees of an area wheelchair vendor, Alabama Wheelchairs, helped with the event.

“We’ve done events like this before in the past, but this is the first time we’ve done one since we moved into our new building a year and a half ago,” said Randy Whitt, field supervisor for Children’s Rehabilitation. “We hope to make this an annual event here.”

Children’s Rehabilitation, on Coleman Road, is part of a statewide program that provides medical and rehabilitative support for children with special care needs and their families. Along with medical care, the program helps children acquire medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, not covered by their insurance.

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‘Breaking Bad’ Star Speaks Out Against Bullying

By Deborah Donovan

R. J. Mitte, one of the stars of the hit AMC show Tell your 4-year-old daughter who asks why she has to wear glasses, a hearing aid and an eye patch that they’re what make her unique, R. J. Mitte, a star of the hit AMC show “Breaking Bad,” said Tuesday at Harper College.

After Mitte, who has mild cerebral palsy, spoke for half an hour, questions from the packed audience of 443 were submitted on cards, and most of the ones read by the assistants were about real life, not the popular TV show that just ended after five seasons.

That was a good thing because the 21-year-old actor was more eloquent giving those answers than in his prepared remarks.

“When they’re older they’ll understand,” he said. “They will realize that everything that they did, everything they had to overcome, that pushed their back against the wall made them better people.”

Mitte advocates for organizations that help people with cerebral palsy and for others that work with actors with disabilities.

The tall, thin young actor is passionate in his work against bullying and urged everyone to get involved, to speak up for their family and friends and what is right.

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Coon Rapids Senior Takes Inspiring Steps at Pep Rally

By Dave Berggren

COON RAPIDS, Minn. – It wasn’t your typical homecoming pep fest at Coon Rapids High School on Friday. In fact, it was one no one will forget.

“This is the biggest day of my life,” said Dakota Forness, a senior at Coon Rapids. “I’ve been planning this since last year.”

The cerebral palsy Dakota was born with keeps him in a wheel chair, but that wasn’t going to stop him from fully taking part in this year’s Homecoming festivities.

“People have asked me all throughout my high school career if I could stand or walk,” he said. “I think they’ll get their answer today.”

As the final participant in the pep fest, Forness gave a speech to the entire student body about what it means to truly be victorious.

“It doesn’t matter if you play sports or not. It’s about setting goals in your life,” he told the crowd. “When you’re a Cardinal you don’t stand alone.”

And with that, Dakota stood up. With help on either side and with weeks of practice behind him, he walked to the center of the court.

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