DO-IT is Enriched as Scholar Wins Award

Deb Cronheim, DO-IT research coordinator

Every so often, DO-IT receives a donation that has a special significance. The Olathe East Chapter of the National Honor Society made one such donation in response to what they saw as a tremendous benefit to one of their members, Jeff Kopac, who is a '98 DO-IT Scholar. Olathe East High School donated $400 to DO-IT in recognition of the opportunities DO-IT provides to promising young students with disabilities. Way to go, Jeff, and thank you Olathe East!!

Here is Jeff's inspirational high school graduation speech:

Good evening Dr. Kaawitz, fellow students, parents, teachers and friends. Most people know me as the kid in this red wheelchair zooming down the halls and getting to class, but they don't know how strong and determined I am. In 1985, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Ataxia Telangiectasia. The doctors told us I would not live to be 12 years old. From being able to play T-ball and soccer I progressively lost my mobility and had to sit on the sideline and watch my friends play. Most people facing what I have would choose to take the easy way out and give up. At the age of six, I began learning the martial arts. From this I learned how to cultivate the will for striving for the best. Plainly speaking, "never give up, persevere." I handled my health problem by putting emphasis on academics and striving to prove to people that I could succeed. I didn't listen to people's preconceived ideas on what I could or could not accomplish. I was set on what I wanted to do. I thought independently.

Facing a major challenge is like climbing a mountain. It cannot be conquered in one great leap. Instead, it must be taken one small step at a time. Each step is a small success and through perseverance, the mountain can be conquered. If we don't ever give up, we can succeed. So in the immortal words of the late Jim Valvano, "Don't give up! Don't ever give up!"