Tony Carpenter has worked hard despite his struggles to reach the point he is at now, but everyone needs some help. Tony is 26 and has cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, and dysphagia. In his home town of Allegan, Michigan, the community is getting closer to giving Tony a great gift. A new manual wheelchair which will make it easier for him to get around.
Tony has been a student at Hillside Learning and Behavior Center in Allegan for 24 years. In that time, he has gone through surgeries on his hand, knees, mouth and back. He has continued to persevere despite having 11 surgeries in those areas which would take an incredible toll on anyone’s life. Still, the effort that he shows in learning how to do tasks around the house has never wavered.
“He tries so hard at everything that I just know that he’ll succeed at everything he does,” His mother Denice Peckel told WWMT.com
For the last 14 years, Tony has been taught by Patrica VanOrder, in the Young Adults Severely Cognitively Impaired (SCI) Students program at the Hillside center.
“Just to see him really mature and grow into the young man he is and every challenge we threw at him he accepted and was able to overcome it and do it and all his peers have watched that over the years,” Patricia said, “It gives us a great feeling knowing we put the two together—the stuff we know how to do and the kids that know how to do it, we put it together and he’s our success story.”
“I don’t know that we both could have been as successful in his growing up and his education if we did not have the support from here,” Denice said.
However, the reason that Tony wants a new chair is because his current manual one is starting to break down. It is currently held together with duct tape while the foot plates, head rest and tilt cables are all deteriorating. With Tony set to graduate in June, the family is hoping that he receives an updated mode of transportation to make everything complete.
Tony stared a GoFundMe page to raise money for the wheelchair and the immediate impact has been incredible. They have already raised $8,000 of the $12,000 that they would need, in only a short time.
“The support has been phenomenal,” Denice said gratefully, “People we don’t know, people that we’ve known for years are just giving and giving and sharing and praying and it’s just overwhelming in a really good way.”
Everyone in the community believes in Tony and what he will be able to accomplish if he finally gets that great gift.