By Erin Cargile
This week you will find some unlikely characters on two wheels at Austin High School — from the head football coach calling plays from a wheelchair on the practice field to students like Chess Patterson spinning around in the hallway.
“It’s kinda fun getting the tricks going,” said Patterson.
Senior Archer Hadley, who was born with cerebral palsy, is putting them up to it. “[I hoped] that they would have this eye opening experience and finally understand what it’s like to sit in my shoes for a day,” he said. The 18-year-old gets around campus in a motorized wheelchair. Even his younger brother has only tried it for a night.
“It’s gonna be harder,” said freshman Richard Hadley. “I have some classes that are outside in portables.”
By taking on Archer’s challenge, his classmates and teachers are helping him overcome one, too. About a year ago, he was stuck outside the school in the pouring rain. No one was there to open the door.
“That’s when I realized that I needed to do something about this,” said Archer. “I was tired of being stuck out in the rain.”
Automatic doors with a push button would make life easier, but the district told Archer they are too expensive. Equipping five doors at Austin High adds up to $40,000.
“His initial reaction was there’s no way we can raise that much money, and he was bummed for five seconds,” said Archer’s mom, Barbara. “I said, ‘Archer, look at you. Look at all the other things you’ve overcome in your life. There’s no way this money is going to be an obstacle for you. We’re going to get it. We’re going to get it done.”
Archer’s plan is happening one wheelchair challenge at a time. Every person who nominates someone to use one for a day on campus donates $20. Those nominated can pay $20 to get out it. The concept is similar to the ALS ice bucket challenge.
In order to make a donation to the “All Access for Austin High Campaign,” please visit this link.
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