“To strengthen the muscles of your heart, the best exercise is lifting someone else’s spirit whenever you can.” — Dodinsky
This story is about a profound act of kindness by a high school student.
Tanner Wilson had been saving up for something that he’d been wanting to buy for a long time. One might think it’s a video-game console, the latest pair of sneakers, or the newly-released bluetooth headphones – all things that a typical teenage boy would want. But no, Tanner had been saving up for the past two years not for himself, but for his best friend.
That best friend is fellow student Brandon Qualls, at Caddo Hills High School. Brandon, who uses a wheelchair to get around, had been using a manual model for years. Every day, he had to push his way down the halls from class to class. Although Brandon was accustomed to using this type, it didn’t mean that he had no difficulties with it.
In an interview with News9 TV, Brandon says that his arms “would get really tired” that he “would have to stop and take rests” when wheeling through the corridors of his high school.
That’s when Tanner steps in. Knowing that Brandon sometimes struggles with his wheelchair, the student decided to save a part of his pay from working part-time at a local car mechanic shop to buy his friend an electric wheelchair.
“He’s just been a really good friend and I wanted to do him a favor,” he said. “I just felt like I needed to do it and I wanted to do it.”
Two years of saving up finally paid off. During the last week of February, Tanner surprised Brandon with his new wheelchair in class.
Remembering that day, Brandon said: “They came in and my face just blew up…crying everywhere…just like ‘Wow, can’t believe he did that for me!’”
“It’s been my dream to just have one of these,” he said. “And my dream came true.”
One of Brandon’s teachers, Ginger Wray, collaborated on the good deed by decking out the chair’s fenders with her student’s favorite color – orange. She tricked out the wheelchair with orange flames, with Brandon’s surname Qualls emblazoned on the back of the headrest.
“When he came by I said ‘Brandon, you got to have some flames on there because you’re going to be buzzing down these halls in no time!’ So I went home and made him some flames,” teacher Wray said.
Colleen Carmack, Tanner’s mother, told CNN that her son is uplifted by all the media attention that his good deed has been getting, and smiles whenever he reads the positive messages that people have posted online about his thoughtful act.
But Colleen says that she is not at all surprised by her son’s act of kindness. “That’s him. He’s always been about everybody else and not himself,” she said. “We let him know, you get nowhere being mean.”
She adds that Tanner “had some bad experiences over the last year, so him being able to help somebody else has really brought him out — being able to know that he made a difference. And I can see a difference in him — like wanting to get out and do more. We’re talking about college. He’s had that goal, but he’s talking about it more now.”
Tanner says that the look on Brandon’s face when he saw his wheelchair was unforgettable. He says that he would do it all over again – a full time student and working a part-time job – because seeing his friend smile like that is just priceless.
“There’s many people out here that have troubles and need a little bit of help. Sometimes they can’t do it for themselves,” he said.
With all the attention that their story is getting, Tanner hopes that it will inspire others to do the same, and that “people would care more about others, than just themselves.”
Brandon says that he is still getting the hang of maneuvering his new wheelchair. “It’s awesome, I may hit a few doors but it’s worth it!”
By gifting Brandon with a wheelchair using his own money, Tanner showed everyone what it means to be a selfless friend – putting your friend’s happiness before your own and giving without expecting anything in return.
Don’t we all wish we had a friendship like theirs?
Watch the video interview below of Brandon and Tanner from THV11.
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