MCLOUD, Okla. (KFOR) – It was an emotional moment at the McLoud High School graduation over the weekend as a graduating senior took the steps his mother thought might not happen.
Though he’s been bound to a wheelchair most of his life, this determined young man worked hard to achieve this goal.
Patrick Schafer was diagnosed with Cerebral palsy at 18-months-old.
“After me just coming back from a deployment,” said his mom, Brenda Schafer. “By the time he was 5, he lived in four different places.”
Different places and different doctors, but her son remained the same positive Patrick.
“It’s had its ups, it’s had its downs,” Patrick told KFOR of his experiences.
The military eventually landed the family in the Houston area for a little while before moving to McLoud during Patrick’s freshman year.
“I was so worried about him moving to a small town and having to deal with bullies and there was none,” said Brandy. “McLoud didn’t stand for it.”
Once there, Patrick found a home where he could participate in band, basketball, and earn good grades. He lettered in athletics, academics, and was named to the National Honor Society.
However, he had a bigger goal.
“He said ‘I want to walk at graduation,’” Brandy recalled. “He’s been in the chair almost exclusively since he was about 9, and I didn’t think it was going to happen.”
But it did.
The entire crowd at graduation rose to their feet when they saw him get up to walk across the stage.
Patrick says he didn’t even see them cheering.
“I didn’t, I didn’t until after the fact,” he said. “I was more focused on not tripping over my own feet!”
“I told him, I said, ‘Patrick, your entire community, your entire town just stood up for you.’ And he just looked at me,” said Brandy. “I don’t think he realized until that second, that minute that they had.”
Patrick will be going to OBU in the fall to study physics.
He’s going to continue his physical therapy one step at a time.
“I’m not going to get fast enough to walk efficiently, I know that by now,” Patrick said. “Mainly just going to do my best to keep up with it.”
Patrick underwent a massive surgery in 2019 to help him achieve his goal of walking.
He hopes to one day go into engineering to create robots for the military and prosthetics.