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PWLMS student gets wheelchair courtesy of Sertoma Club

by Merrie Leininger

Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School student Francisco Delgadillo, known as Pancho to his friends, was presented Friday with a much-needed wheelchair by the people who made made the gift possible.

Paulette Irving, who coordinates physical education with disabled students throughout the Douglas County School District, said she, his teachers, physical therapist Nina Dunn and Principal Charlie Condron had been trying to find the funds to buy this $3,000 wheelchair for him for three years.

Pancho has cerebral palsy affecting both legs and an arm, so he needs a wheelchair he can control with one arm.

“For the last three years, Pancho has really needed a new chair. We went through all different avenues for it, but because he is not a U.S. citizen, there is just so much red tape,” Irving said. “Finally, when we had had just about enough of it, Charlie (Condron) just put his foot down and said, ‘Let’s just raise the money and get him a chair.'”

Condron said he became frustrated at the lack of Hispanic services in the area and was worried about Pancho’s health being affected.

“We were afraid his growth was being affected by being in this chair 95 percent of his time,” he said.

n A very good year. Soon after that, it all fell into place.

Jill Heatherton, who teaches English as a second language, knew of Pancho’s dilemma and brought the problem to Sertoma Club, of which she is a member.

The club agreed initially to pay $1,000 and half of what they raised at the annual Barn Dance.

Barry Smith, of Sertoma, said after the dance, which raised $400 more for Pancho, the club decided to donate the entire cost of the chair.

“We had a very good year. We did very well this year at the truck pull. We raised $10,000 and we want to give every nickel back to the community. We have more now so we’re going to spend more,” Smith said. “Here you have this youth and certainly his plight is right in line with our charter and our heart just went out to this young man. He’s not as fortunate as us, and he is a local young man who needed some help.”

However, Medtech Services, Inc., a wheelchair manufacturer out of Reno and Nevada Seating and Mobility in Carson City, which makes wheelchair parts, offered to sell the wheelchair just for the cost of making the chair.

n Thanks. The total was still high, -$2,175.80 – but not the $3,000 originally planned on.

Condron said Irving did the research to find a company that would offer the the chair at cost considering the community was paying for it.

“We’re excited about it. My hat’s off to the people that made this possible, especially Sertoma. They didn’t question it, they just jumped in,” Condron said. “It’s a very sophisticated chair. For his needs, he needs a transmission he can shift to go forward or back and special cushions for his spine.”

n All he needs. That special transmission alone costs about $700, but with the help of all Pancho’s teachers, the wheelchair manufacturers and Sertoma, Pancho got everything he needed.

Pancho was given his new chair Friday and was obviously more comfortable and happy with it. He doesn’t speak English well, but the smile on his face said it all.

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