High school graduation, prom —There’s a good chance many of us just expect those things to happen.
We introduced you to Matthew Fondaw back in 2007 during our Telethon of Stars celebration. Now, 10 years later, he’s getting his diploma. It might not seem like a big deal, but this is a child doctors said would never walk.
"People take so much for granted," said Matthew’s mom, Bethany Joy Shelton. "It just astounds me how far he has come in the last 10 years."
"Complication after complication came about," Bethany said.
He has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, severe scoliosis, and an unspecified genetic disorder. Doctors set the bar low.
"They said this child will never walk," said Bethany. "Never."
"Matthew, kick it," peer tutor Camille Baker encouraged as she and Matthew played with a ball in the hallway at McCracken County High School. "Say, ready, set, kick! Whoo!"
Matthew has continued to prove doctors, and everyone who doubted him, wrong. A few weeks ago, he attended prom.
"Everybody just loves him," Bethany explained. "It makes me happy just knowing that he’s protected by the community."
His mom says it’s who Matthew is, his spirit, that draws people to him.
"He’s all about love and caring," she said. "I don’t even know if he knows the difference between right and wrong. Everything’s right in his world."
Things haven’t come easy for this family.
"Now that 17 years have gone by, I wouldn’t change a bit of it," Bethany said. "I think everybody needs a Matthew! I think they do."
Matthew will graduate this weekend, on Sunday, May 21. He did have a health setback. He injured his hip. While he won’t walk across the stage, he will be pushed across in a wheelchair.
Is there someone overcoming the odds in your community? Let us know about them. Email us at email@example.com. Make sure to put ‘I Am Local 6’ in the subject line.