By Brenda L. Holmes
INDIANAPOLIS — When Jeff Powers met Ben Davis High School student Jonathan Raymond, it was as his assigned aid or para professional. Raymond has cerebral palsy and needs help while attending school.
“I worked directly with him for a year and a half,” Powers said. “We would work together for the entire day on a one on one basis.”
A friendship between the two grew over their time together at BDHS and the experience helped Powers learn that he wanted to become a teacher. He’s now a student teacher at BDHS.
“We see these kinds of friendships with the students and the paras,” BDHS Principal Sandi Squire said. “Jeff has been pushing Jonathon around the school for quite some time. And I’ve seen Jonathon blossom having Jeff as his para. His experiences showed him he wanted to be an educator.”
Powers decided he wanted to share one of his favorite pastimes — running — with Raymond, as well as raise funds for a new laptop. They decided he could push Raymond in the Indianapolis’ Mini Marathon on Saturday.
This was the fourth mini marathon for Powers. In 2009, he placed fourth in the race.
“It all started out as a fundraiser but they raised the money so quickly they’ve been able to donate to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation,” Squire said.
They were able to raise $700 for the laptop, which will help Raymond with school.
“The weather was perfect,” Powers said. “It was a great experience. I think Jonathan really enjoyed it and was shocked by the atmosphere. There were people to cheer us on the whole way.”
He didn’t get to practice running while pushing Raymond prior to the race.
“I’d seen it done before,” Powers said. “There’s a man who has pushed his son in several marathons. I just wanted to share something with Jonathan that I love.”
He said it was a quick learning process behind the wheelchair and that he was happy he was able to have the experience with his good friend.