Leslie Moen met Forest Walton a couple of years ago when he moved to Harrisburg from Oregon.
The first thing she noticed was how incredibly sweet the young redhead was. The second was the wheelchair.
Hes honestly the sweetest boy I ever met, Leslie said. He used to could walk, but now he cant, and he doesnt let that get him down.
Forest has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative disease that attacks voluntary muscles and has no cure.
His mother, Sherri Gotcher, said the type of muscular dystrophy that Forest has means his muscles dont grow. They just deteriorate, she said. Boys with the disease can generally walk at first but are soon mobile only by wheelchair.
When Forest began using a wheelchair, a family in the area donated its wheelchair-accessible 1992 Dodge Caravan. The van now has close to 200,000 miles on it, has had transmission rebuilds twice and engine work multiple times and recently, a window fell out. Gotcher doesnt work outside the home; she cares for Forest and has significant health issues of her own. So Leslie, a 16-year-old junior at Hickory Ridge High, where Forest is a freshman, decided to organize a 5K race Sept. 24 in Forests honor, hoping to eventually raise $30,000 to $40,000 to get a new wheelchair-accessible van. After the race, in Facebook event posts, Leslie estimated the total raised at about $10,000, and promised we are going to work hard on other fundraisers ASAP.
For Gotcher, what Leslie is doing is amazing. I was not expecting this at all, she said. For a 16-year-old to do this on her own ... shes just a shining star in my life right now.
- Maggie Reeder