OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) - There wasn’t a dry eye among the burly construction workers when the two brothers for the first time drove their electric wheelchairs down and then up the wooden ramps the workers built for them.
For the parents of dystrophic dwarfs Issiac and Matthew Warren, the community project - spearheaded by Robertsville Middle School employees and local churches - restored their faith in people.
“It’s really emotional to see there are good people out there,” said dad Mike Warren.
The workers with Riikola Construction, he said, “kept thanking us for allowing them to do this for us.”
Issiac, 15, and 13-year-old Matthew have a rare form of dwarfism, characterized by both short stature and short arms and legs. They can’t walk because of hip displacements.
Mike Warren said a doctor told him the odds that a couple would have two children with the same affliction were greater “than winning the Powerball twice in a row.”
When Carrie Warren was pregnant with Issiac and his rare ailment was determined, the doctor told him “to buy a pine box because he would not survive birth,” Mike Warren recalled.
The mother-to-be strongly felt otherwise.
“I was convinced he was going to make it,” she said.
After Issiac was delivered and Carrie heard him crying, “She said to the doctor, ‘I told you he would live,’ and then passed out,” Mike Warren said.
The parents were stunned when Carrie, pregnant with Matthew, learned the unborn child had the same affliction.
“A relative suggested abortion,” Carrie Warren said. “There was no way I was going to do that.”
The boys have undergone some 20 surgeries each for everything from a cleft palate to spinal issues. Now, they’re typical teenagers, immersed in video games and other on-screen diversions.
“They are just wonderful,” Carrie Warren said. “I don’t know what I would do without them. They are the happiest part of my life.”
Matthew is in the seventh grade at Robertsville Middle School, and Issiac is a sophomore at Oak Ridge High.
They enrolled shortly after Oak Ridge Schools began this year, moving from Louisville Ky., where there are physicians versed in treating the boys’ physical afflictions.
Access by the brothers to their modest rental home poised a problem. Steps down a steep embankment led to the stairs into their house. The brothers would have to get out of their electric wheelchairs, clamber down the slope and then climb on all fours up the steps into their house.
The expensive wheelchairs were then stored under the porch, exposed to the elements.
The family’s plight came up in a faculty meeting last month at Robertsville. David Scott, a teacher at the school and the Oak Ridge High School girls’ basketball coach, “picked up the ball and ran with it,” said Searcy New, a special education teacher’s assistant at the school.
“Calls were made, and the Oak Ridge community responded quickly and was ready and eager to help,” Scott said.
Local churches contributed to the effort, and within four days, $1,700 was raised. With the landlord’s consent, the ramps were installed, with the construction crew donating time and labor.
“That is some grade A work they did,” Mike Warren said.
Scott said a drive is underway to obtain a handicapped-equipped van for the Warrens, who have been without a vehicle for more than a year. Donations may be made to: https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/xy36/van-for-matthew-and-issiac.
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, https://www.knoxnews.com
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