LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – High School graduation is a moment, years in the making for seniors.
“This is what we’ve been working towards our entire lives, to walk across the stage,” Avery Powers told News 19.
Avery Powers and Barrett Brown stood on either side of fellow grad Devin Powell, walking with him, as he received his diploma from East Limestone High School.
The walk was an accomplishment for Devin, who has Cerebral Palsy. His family received the diagnosis when he was just eight months old. Since then, he has had 17 surgeries in his 19 years of life.
“He has been in a wheelchair most — well, all of his life,” Devin’s mom, Viryonka Howell said.
Devin is also nonverbal; however, neither of these things have been a barrier stopping him from keeping up with his friends: Jacob, Jordan, Avery and Barrett.
The five have been friends since elementary school.
“I remember in the hallway, he ran over my toe. Ever since then, we’ve been friends,” Barrett said. “He just wants to smile and make everyone happy.”
“Devin is one of the best people I’ve ever met. I don’t know if I could go through as much hardship as he has and be as happy as he is,” friend Jacob Eslick said.
Devin’s teacher, Jennifer Persall, echoes how contagious his happiness is to those around him.
“He’s a special kid. Everybody knows him,” Persall said. “He wants to do what other kids are doing, he wants to be involved.”
So when it came time for graduation, Devin’s friends approached Ms. Persall with a plan. Their goal was to get Devin out of his chair and across the stage, on foot.
“We didn’t want him to be held down by a wheelchair or a walker, and to see his smile,” Avery said. “All of us together. He finally got to walk across that stage like everybody else, get that diploma and be the happiest person on Earth.”
The second-happiest people, were his mom, Virykonka, and Dad, Andre. Cheering on their son, who they call their blessing, from the stands.
“We just started screaming. The entire gym stood up, screaming, yelling. It was amazing to see the whole East Limestone Community stand up and scream for him,” she explained.
For the five friends, this was the perfect ending to their school years together.
“I remember looking at [Barrett] and we both started crying,” Avery said. “At the end of the day, the things you remember the most, I promise, are not the schoolwork and everything. Its the friendships and memories that you get to make with each other.”