Less than $1,000 to go!
That's what the Lincoln Elementary Lift Fund needs to buy a $17,000 lift to help disabled students and visitors to Ogden's Lincoln Elementary School.In March, the Deseret News told the story of Phillip Reese, a 9-year-old who attends the school. Reese has an incurable genetic disease called Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, which has made him unable to walk. He drives a motorized wheelchair most places at the school - but the school doesn't have an elevator to the lower level, where the cafeteria is.
The cafeteria is more than a place where students eat. With its stage, it serves as a gathering place for assemblies, music and other activities. Parents go there as well for graduations and other important events - and some adult visitors also are in wheelchairs. To reach the cafeteria, a wheelchair user can go around outside the school and into a rear door.
However, Phillip doesn't like being out of touch with his classmates while he does this, and it reminds everyone of his disability. During bad weather, when he should not go outside, the problems are even more acute: He is forced to use a rickety "stair tracker" - a machine that rocks frighteningly as it carries him down the stairs.
Other students say it jounces so badly that it seems Phillip is about to fly out of it.
The stair tracker is the only thing that terrifies Phillip. "He really is scared" when he must ride the device, his teacher, Amy Swain, said in March. "He's a brave boy. His poor little face. He tries not to cry."
The Ogden School Foundation has been accepting donations to buy a lift, which would permanently attach to the stairwell and smoothly carry a wheelchair and its occupant up and down the stairs.
This week, the school's principal, Stephen Felt, phoned Phillip's parents, Phil and Debbie Reese to tell them the foundation only has to raise another $875.
This summer, Phillip is enjoying a Muscular Dystrophy Association camp in Salt Lake. He'll be able to swim, go to a Buzz game, even attend a dance. With a little luck, when he returns to school in the fall, a new lift will be ready - so he and other disabled people will not need to ride the tracker again.
Anyone who wants to donate may call the Ogden School Foundation at 625-8721.