High school students unite to help family of 7th grade boy get wheelchair accessible van

High schools each have their rivalries, but in Utah County right now, two longtime rivals are coming together to help...

Posted: Apr 16, 2018 9:07 AM
Updated: Apr 16, 2018 9:07 AM

High schools each have their rivalries, but in Utah County right now, two longtime rivals are coming together to help a family in need and a 13-year-old boy is helping to unite them.

Kevin Baillargeon is a seventh grader at American Fork Junior High who has some favorite subjects. "Tech and science," he said.

Born without arms or legs, it's a challenge for Kevin when he doesn't have his wheelchair. But a lot of people have noticed there is something very special about him.

"I think it is because Kevin is such an inspiration to everybody," said Sabrina Ceraso, one of the students in the National Honor Society at American Fork High School.

When the NHS club heard an effort was underway to help Kevin's family get a van with a wheelchair ramp, they came up with the idea of hosting an outdoor carnival.

"He has already helped us in an amazing way, he has shown us that despite any challenge or trial that is thrown your way, you can keep going that you can stand tall and you can be an example to your friends and to people you don't even know," she added.

But "Kevin's Karnival" is just the culmination of a yearlong effort to help Kevin, from several schools in the Alpine District, including his own.

Orem Junior High students raised money during a Halloween dance. Pleasant Grove High School gathered donations during the halftime of a basketball game. Honor students at rival Lone Peak High School have joined the carnival effort.

"It has been fun to see that those involved have really taken ownership of this and they have really rallied around it and are really excited for it," added Alex Edwards.

Those close to Kevin say the van will give him more independence.

"It means the world to us because it is a way that we can get his chair around and he can go and be free and doesn't have to rely on someone to carry him around," said Matt Willamson, a caregiver for Kevin.

He added the community support has been overwhelming.

"This is amazing, the students at the schools have been wonderful."

And for Kevin, this community help will make a big difference for his junior high and high school years.

"It is going to help us to get around places with my wheelchair a lot easier," he said.

But more importantly, "Kevin's Karnival" is helping to bring a lot of new friends together.

"Kevin's Karnival" is set for next Saturday, April 21, at the American Fork Junior High, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. There will be food, fun and even a car show.

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