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Disabled student steps up in front of his classmates

Walk to remember

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Like many Stevens Creek Elementary School fifth-graders, Cole Wooten walked across the stage Tuesday during the school's Honors Day.

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Stevens Creek Elementary fifth-grader Cole Wooten uses his new prosthetic feet to walk to the stage on honors day to accept his awards. Cole, who has been in a wheelchair since he was 2, received his prosthesis just days before the event but was determined to walk across stage on his own.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Stevens Creek Elementary fifth-grader Cole Wooten uses his new prosthetic feet to walk to the stage on honors day to accept his awards. Cole, who has been in a wheelchair since he was 2, received his prosthesis just days before the event but was determined to walk across stage on his own.

Those steps marked more than the end of elementary school for the 11-year-old.

They were some of his first steps.

"I wasn't expecting the reaction that I felt," Cole's mother, Pam Wooten, said. "I wasn't expecting it to be quite that overwhelming."

Cole crossed the stage, with the help of a walker, to a standing ovation and applause from his fellow fifth-graders, teachers and administrators.

Even his attendance for the last two weeks of school is surprising considering Cole underwent surgery March 4 to amputate his feet at Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville, S.C.

Ironically, the surgery gave Cole the chance to walk.

At birth, Cole was diagnosed with epidermolysis bullosa, a rare disorder that causes his fragile skin to slough off and blister. He bruises and injures easily but gets around by riding in his wheelchair or scooting around on his knees.

The surgery to remove his feet, disfigured by the disease, allowed him to be fitted for prosthetics. He received them Saturday and wore them only once before his Honors Day public debut.

"(It was) surprising," Cole said, adding that he wanted to make the walk on his new prosthetic feet, but wasn't sure if he could. "I still have to use a walker and (wheel)chair. But I can stand up. I can't walk."

But he plans to keep practicing to get proficient at standing upright and walking with the prosthetics.

"It is unusual," Cole said of being able to stand up, be taller and see the world from a different perspective.

Before his surgery, Cole, an outgoing and popular student, visited other classes, explaining his surgery and answering questions. Expected to be in the hospital for two weeks, Cole went home two days after the surgery.

Wooten said Cole wanted to abandon the Homebound program to attend the last two weeks of school and participate in the end-of-the-year activities.

Wooten said the moment was especially sweet because doctors said newborn Cole would likely never leave the hospital.

"We've waited 11 years and to see him walk like that. It was overwhelming," said Wooten, who forgot to take a single photo. "He is truly a gift."

Cole's accomplishment was shared by the Stevens Creek faculty and staff, who have known him since he started pre-K at the school.

"It was just about the best gift I have ever been given," Principal Michelle Paschal said. "We see a lot of growth in students as they change and mature. But to see him be able to experience that was really beyond words."

Paschal said Cole has always had "a bright spirit about him," and is rarely without a smile.

But the outgoing boy is a determined one, his mother said.

Cole does what he wants, despite his limitations. He takes hip-hop dance at Center Stage, which his mother owns. He plays wheelchair basketball and just started wheelchair tennis.

"I'm going to try to train for the Paralympics," Cole said. "I'm going to try out track."

Comments (12) Add comment
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Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 05/14/10 - 01:04 am
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What an awesome young man -

What an awesome young man - He will go far in life no matter what challenges are ahead of him. He is an inspiration to us all.

tckr1983
365
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tckr1983 05/14/10 - 01:05 am
0
0
Good luck bud, you can do it.

Good luck bud, you can do it.

RoadkiII
6807
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RoadkiII 05/14/10 - 02:37 am
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We need more students like

We need more students like Cole, way to go young man.

Just My Opinion
6251
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Just My Opinion 05/14/10 - 03:44 am
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Thanks Cole! I was starting

Thanks Cole! I was starting to have a cruddy morning, but, after reading about you, my day is lifted. Hope and pray all the best for you!

corgimom
38321
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corgimom 05/14/10 - 04:05 am
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Mr. and Mrs. Wooten, that is

Mr. and Mrs. Wooten, that is wonderful news. I know your hearts are overflowing with joy. My best wishes go to your family.

And to all the teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists, and other personnel who have contributed to this wonderful success- I know that you, too, are overjoyed.

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 05/14/10 - 06:32 am
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Great job Cole, just goes to

Great job Cole, just goes to show that even when times are tough we can still endure if we have the faith and the drive to do so. Congratulations.....and you are an inspiration indeed.

ripjones
2
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ripjones 05/14/10 - 07:43 am
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Cole, you rock !! As stated

Cole, you rock !! As stated above, you are an inspiration to us all. If our classrooms were filled by students just like you, there would be no problems, and there would be nothing that could not be attempted. Good luck in whatever you decide to attain...

dmoon1
0
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dmoon1 05/14/10 - 09:48 am
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What a great accomplishment!

What a great accomplishment! As a mom of a child with a disability, I wish the chronicle would have headlined it differently. Instead of "Disabled Student" they could have headlined it "Student with disability." Some may think that is being pety but I just feel when we say things like "Disabled student" or "Special-need Child" we are defining the student/child or person by their disability. Just my opinion.

oh man
0
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oh man 05/14/10 - 11:14 am
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good job little man. . . . .

good job little man. . . . . .

Mr. Thackeray
957
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Mr. Thackeray 05/14/10 - 11:43 am
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A principal of a school I

A principal of a school I used to teach in always said at the end of the announcements every day, "have a super, fantastic, wonderful, day. remember, you have the power to make it so. It's up to you!" You are the embodiment (not a 5th grade word, I know) of that statement!

smile234
0
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smile234 05/14/10 - 11:49 am
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Cole, I met you at Vacation

Cole, I met you at Vacation Bible School at Hillcrest Baptist during recreation. I knew then that you stood taller than many and now many can look up to you even more! Blessings to you and your family.
Mr. Joe

PhiloPublius
386
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PhiloPublius 05/14/10 - 02:01 pm
0
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It's good to see someone with

It's good to see someone with that kind of persevering attitude. We wouldn't need FEMA if New Orleans had citizens like this young man.

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