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Local high school raises money for student's new wheelchair | News

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Local high school raises money for student's new wheelchair

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WUSA9) -- Ibrahim Samia, or "Ibra" for short, has plenty of friends at Watkins Mill High School, but his best friend might be Matthew Johnson, a science teacher at the school.

"We're going to be best friends for life," Johnson told WUSA9. "I know that."

Samia is 19-years-old. He goes to high school and, like many boys his age, loves to watch football. He also has athetoid cerebral palsy.

According to Johnson, Samia, who was born in Kenya, had little access to medical care and didn't have a wheelchair until he moved to the U.S. when he was 13.

"He did not have a wheelchair. [Samia's] dad would carry him around, and when he came to enroll here at Watkins, his dad was carrying him in."

Someone donated a used wheelchair.

For six years, Samia has used that chair, but it wasn't made for him.

It doesn't hold his body right, and because of it, Johnson said "he then has all these spastic movements a lot more and it's really made his body deteriorate over the years, more than he would have had if he had access to a customized chair."

Ibra just knows it's uncomfortable. When asked how long it's been hurting him to sit in the chair, he told WUSA9, "six years."

It's also falling apart from the tires to the chair cushions.

Seeing that, a student group called Learning for Independence started to raise money. First with a bake sale, then a GoFundMe, all with the hope of buying Samia a brand new custom wheelchair.

Johnson set up the page and started making videos to tell the world about Samia and his family.

Students helped plaster signs with the website all over school. They started donating their own money and then using social media to encourage their friends to get involved.

Now, under Mr. Johnson's leadership, Watkins Mill High School has raised more than $23,000.

The donations have come from teachers and students at the school and from people all over the country. Plenty of the money came from people who do not know Samia.

One donation, Johnson said, came from someone living in Germany.

For Samia, it's already more than he ever imagined.

"Just thank you," he said. "All of you."

If you'd like to donate to the GoFundMe page, click here

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