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Grounding a wheelchair for graduation

Family battles for equal treatment at ceremony
Posted at 7:14 PM, Jun 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-05 19:14:36-04

At 22-years-old, Kaleb McLaughlin isn't your typical graduating senior, but his mother says he will be treated the same at Thursday's ceremony at the Rising Sun High School football field or else.

"I will block the entrance to the graduation.  I will literally raise hell.  I will go to jail," said Shelby McLaughlin.
    
McLaughlin adopted Kaleb when he was seven-years-old, and a rare form of muscular dystrophy had already robbed him of his ability to walk and to talk.
    
Due to surgeries and other setbacks, it has taken him six years longer than the average senior to graduate, and his mother says the school had assured her that his wheelchair wouldn't keep him from receiving his diploma on stage just like his fellow graduates.

That is, until Monday, just 72 hours before the ceremony.

"I got a phone call yesterday that they couldn't do the ramp, because it would be too dangerous, because the ramp would be too steep, and I'm just not accepting it," said Kaleb’s mother, "I'm not going to let them just push him aside and say, 'Oh well, in front of the stage is good enough.'  No.  It's not good enough."
    
Kaleb's sister, Kimi Emerson, who makes her living caring for adults with disabilities, also joined the fray bringing attention to his plight on social media.

"I have helped my mother fight battles with him and taken him places and getting him on roller coasters, stuff like this, doing stuff that we are able to do and for him not to have the high school experience, to have that rite of passage, it's disrespectful to him," said Emerson.
    
After an animated appeal to school board members early Tuesday, workers have now found a way to construct a long, gradual ramp to accommodate Kaleb's wheelchair setting the stage for him to experience one of greatest accomplishments of his life. 

"The biggest that he's had so far, and that's why I'm making a big deal out of it," said his mother, "He deserves it just as well as the rest of them getting a diploma."