UPDATED – Westford Academy freshman Luke Dillon is on the verge of getting some heavy metal for competing in his soccer games.
Dillon, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscular disease, is the focus of a fundraising effort being spearheaded by WA Principal James Antonelli.
Antonelli has challenged his students to raise funds that will go toward a special wheelchair, the Strike Force Power Wheelchair, that will allow Luke to play soccer with teammates who are also in wheelchairs.
“This past week it was brought to my attention that one of our students in the 9th grade, Luke Dillon has joined a soccer team for wheelchair bound students,” Antonelli wrote in his weekly newsletter to parents. “In order for Luke to effectively compete on this team, a ‘strike force power wheelchair’ would need to be purchased.”
“Luke is beyond thrilled,” said his mother, Dawn Dillon. “…He feels free. He feels like he’s on a competitive team.”
Dawn Dillon said the chair will allow her son to pivot, spin and make kicks at the same level as his teammates and opponents, most of whom have the special sports chair.
A student raffle was scheduled for the Dec. 16 basketball game and students will have a chance to donate to the cause during their lunch periods this week.
The chair is low to the ground with two large wheels in the back and two smaller ones in the front that allows it to spin around and pivot quickly. The front has a metal grid-like soccer guard for controlling the soccer ball. Players use a joy stick to operate the device.
Dillon recently joined a a soccer team for wheelchair bound students, Antonelli stated. But in order for Dillon to compete he needs the chair.
So far, the Westford Charitable Foundation has donated $1,500. An anonymous donor is providing $5,500, Antonelli said. The base chair is listed at a sale price of $7,020 at PowerSoccerShop.com based in Zimmerman, Minnesota. But special features will add significantly to the cost, said Dawn Dillon, who praised Antonelli for taking on this cause.
“It’s incredibly generous,” she said.
This story was updated on Dec. 20 and an error corrected. The chair is called the “Strike Force Power Wheelchair and Soccer Guard.