- Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

SELINSGROVE, Pa. (AP) - A beaming Tyler Neitz clutched the hand of Logan Leiby when he stopped at his Hummels Wharf home for a visit early Saturday evening.

It was a similar gesture the friends shared a few days earlier when Leiby, a junior at Selinsgrove High School, escorted Neitz to his high school commencement and sat with him throughout the ceremony.

“It’s like a security blanket, holding hands, because he tenses up,” said Leiby.

Neitz, 20, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Leiby learned about his tendency to clench his hands when anxious while working with him and other disabled students in the school’s life skills learning class.

A record-setting high school quarterback, Leiby plans a career in elementary and special education.

“One thing you realize is how fortunate you are, but also how special they are - how brave the kids in the program are,” he said.

“When our teacher, Mrs. Michelle Mudrock, asked if I could accompany him to graduation, I was so honored. It was such a great thing and I was so touched to be asked to be with my friend. I mean there was no way I would ever say no.”

Martin and Beth Neitz appreciate the bond Leiby and other students forged with their son.

“It’s a wonderful thing that students have been able to get to know Tyler,” said Beth Neitz.

It was through Tyler’s twin brother, Bryce, who was also born with cerebral palsy but is less severely disabled and is able to use a walker, that Leiby met Tyler.

He graduated from high school two years ago, but as a football fan, was well aware of Lieby’s accomplishments on and off the field.

“I thought it was very nice of him,” Bryce said of Leiby’s offer to escort his brother at commencement. “He wouldn’t do it if he didn’t want to.”

Beth Neitz agreed. “It is genuine.”

Coach Derek Hicks said Leiby is the type of person who will help anyone in need.

Logan is someone you’d want as a son. He’s a positive leader and off the field, he’s about the nicest person you’d want to meet,” Hicks said.

He’s so respected by the other athletes that he was voted to serve as co-captain of the team, said Hicks, a designation rarely given to a high school junior.

Both Leiby and Neitz are outstanding students that have had an impact on the school community, Superintendent Chad Cohrs said.

Tyler has a great personality. He always seems to have a smile on his face,” said Cohrs, who described Leiby as a student who excels both academically and athletically. “He is a great role model, and that is how he is looked upon on campus and by students.”

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Online:

https://bit.ly/2rWSZq6

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Information from: The Daily Item, https://www.dailyitem.com

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