Halloween rolled around and I went cruising with my buddies in Doug Jensen’s beat up old sedan. We were out seeing what evil deeds we could accomplish.
I was in the back seat with one of my buddies chucking tomatoes and water balloons at the trick-or-treaters. This was a lot of fun. We had left my wheelchair at home because there wasn’t room in the trunk—which was filled with bushel-baskets of soft, overripe tomatoes and a five gallon paint bucket packed with tight round water balloons.
The local police caught on to our pranks, and four patrol cars, with flashing red and blue lights, pulled us over. An officer brusquely ordered us out of the car. My buddies quickly responded. I could only sit there.
“Get out of the car!”
“I can’t. I’m in a wheelchair.”
“Uh… I left it at home.”
“Sure you did. And tonight’s not Halloween, and you weren’t throwing rotten tomatoes at kids either! Don’t be a smart mouth. Get out, now!” he ordered.
Thinking I was being a stubborn smart-aleck, the officer grabbed me by the shirt and jerked me out of the car. I fell hard against the pavement.
One of the other officers came around to that side of the car. Seeing me on the ground, he quickly explained that I was the boy who had been shot by Officer Fetheroff’s son.
Shocked into the reality of my disability—and the unique circumstances of my injury—the officer helped me back into the car. That’s an experience they’ll never forget.
I won’t either because I still had to do several hours of community service. I was just as accountable as anyone else. I had always wanted to be treated like everyone else—and I got my wish. I was sentenced to do community service just like my buddies. Of course they gave me a cushy job: I spoke at a local elementary school assembly. That helped start my speaking career—another advantage to being in a wheelchair. Talk about “lemons to lemonade!”