WELLMAN-Being wheelchair-bound did not stop Zach Tuma from joining his fifth-grade classmates in washing windows and sweeping streets in downtown Wellman on Friday.
The class turned out to provide a hands-on “thank you” to the local businesses whose donations helped raise the estimated $1,800 needed for a modified bicycle for Tuma.
Disabled by a spinal cord injury at birth, Tuma has managed to attend regular classes, take part in Invent Iowa-where he qualified for state competition-and participate in aerobic exercises, which will prepare him to ride the bicycle that should arrive within a few weeks.
“It is a customized bike, not a motorized one,” explained Amy Shalla, Wellman special education teacher who has helped with the effort. “It will look a lot like a regular bike, but there are special modifications so Zach can ride it.”
The modifications will be made in Texas, and the bike will be shipped back to Wellman “fully assembled,” she said. “It should be here in a few weeks.”
Tuma’s classmates at Wellman elementary School started a fund-raising effort earlier this year. Fund-raisers included a Hat and Gum Day-when students paid an amount to be permitted to chew gum and/or wear a hat in school-and a Cake-o-Gram, when fifth-graders baked cupcakes and delivered them.
There also was a bake sale as part of the recent city-wide garage sales held in Wellman. More donations came from local residents, organizations and businesses.
“Because these kids believe things in life are not free, they wanted to do something as a way of paying back, a little, the community or its help,” said Shalla.
By:Mary Zielinski, Contributing editor
©Washington Evening Journal 2004