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Act of Friendship draws state, national attention

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DEWAYNE HOLLOWAY

montcnews2@windstream.net

CADDO HILLS HIGH SCHOOL – An amazing act of friendship has thrust a pair of Caddo Hills students into the state and national news cycle this week.

It all started last week when Tanner Wilson surprised friend and classmate Brandon Qualls with a motorized wheelchair at school.

Brandon, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, had been using a manual wheelchair at school.

Brandon isn’t one to complain about the manual wheelchair, but did admit that he would get tired while getting around the campus.

Tanner, who is also a senior at Caddo Hills, stated that he has always admired Brandon’s attitude and decided he wanted to do something to help his friend. So, a few years ago he started saving money to purchase a motorized wheelchair for Brandon.

Tanner began saving money while working at G&H Auto and Diesel Repair. He admitted it took a while to find a chair he could afford. Tanner said he thought he was going to get one last year, but didn’t have the funds to make the purchase. He didn’t ask for help because this was something he wanted to do for Brandon.

Tanner did finally tell his mother of his desire to help Brandon and a few week’s ago she found a motorized chair for sale on Facebook. With the purchase of the wheelchair Tanner he was able to finally give his friend the mobility he deserved.

Tanner stated that some of the kids at school had asked him was it worth it and he quickly responded that it was 100 percent worth it.

Tanner surprised Brandon with the new mode of transportation last week at school. When asked about it, Brandon stated that he couldn’t believe what Tanner had done.

“I just had this big smile on my face.” He stated.

Staff at Caddo Hills snapped a picture and shared their pride in the two young men on Facebook. It took less than a day for television news crews to catch wind of what happened. Channel 4 from Little Rock visited the school Wednesday with Channel 7 and 11 following later in the week.

Justin Neel, a teacher at Caddo Hills, stated Thursday that in less than two days the school’s initial post had received over 100,000 hits. Neel joked about them going national and by the weekend it proved to be a prophetic statement. Over the weekend their story was broadcast on CBSNews.com as part of their The Uplift” program.

Caddo Hills Superintendent Deric Owens stated that he was excited that Brandon and Tanner were receiving all this the media attention. He added that in the midst of all the negative things seen on the news he was glad two of his students could share some positive news.

Superintendent Owens went on to say that as special as this act of kindness is, it is just one of many great things going on at Caddo Hills and the surrounding communities. he pointed out that acts of kindness are fairly common here and is happy that these young men have shared this with the world.

Brandon’s motorized wheelchair has already been decorated with flames. His name also adorns the back of the headrest. When asked about it, Brandon stated that he was excited with the embellishments and was happy that they included his favorite color, orange.

Tanner plans to pursue a career in mechanics and is trying to decide if he wants to focus on small engine repair, or general engine repair at National Park College.

Brandon stated that he’s looking forward to graduation so he can spend more time with his family. He is also looking forward to having more time to spend fishing with family.