Paul Duckworth is a natural-born salesman. Put him in a room with a crowd and he will seek out everyone in the room, look each person in the eye, offer a handshake and introduce himself.
He is careful to repeat each person's name as he meets them and his recall for names is photographic. What's even more impressive is that Paul is only five years old — and he is in a wheelchair.
The Delta and Cedaredge Rotary clubs recently saw Paul in action when he visited each club with his parents, Gary and Vicki Duckworth of Cedaredge. Paul is in need of a handicapped-accessible van and the two area Rotary clubs, along with support from the Crested Butte Rotary Club, have launched a local effort to raise funds to purchase a van. The clubs will host a "What's A Duck Worth?" van fundraiser at the Cedaredge AppleFest the first weekend of October. For a $2 donation ($5 for three guesses) contestants will guess, for prizes, the number of rubber duckies in the van (the rubber duckies are on loan from the Crested Butte Rotary). Paul has visited both local clubs with his mother so Rotary members could learn more about his disability.
"Paul is an impressive young man," said Marjorie Conner, president of the Cedaredge club. "He really charmed us. Vicki and Gary are great parents and very humble. This is a very worthwhile project."
Nancy Wood, immediate past president of the Delta Rotary Club, echoed Conner's sentiment. "Paul is a neat little boy and he and his family are very deserving of this community effort."
Paul's disabilities are extensive. Born with spina bifida, he had the first of many operations on the day he was born. Paul is paralyzed below the waist. He also has Arnold Chiari II, severe fluid on the spine. He was recently diagnosed with scoliosis of the spine, which may necessitate surgery every six months while he is growing, and then a spinal fusion when he is older. He has food allergies and distressing digestive issues. He also has sensory and gross motor challenges.
Another thing Paul has is a brilliant mind and a beautiful singing voice. Bev Stitt, who lives about 100 yards from the Duckworths, said it is very inspiring to listen to Paul. "I can hear him in nice weather when the windows are open and he is so full of joy when he sings. It is such a happy start to my day when I hear Paul sing."
Another neighbor, John Mitchell, is also impressed with Paul.
"It's easy to forget that he is only five years old. He converses at a near adult level, has a great sense of humor and is extremely inquisitive to learn whatever he can from everybody he meets."
Paul started kindergarten in Cedaredge this school year where he is social and engaging with his new classmates.
Paul's parents must make frequent trips to Denver Children's Hospital for Paul's extensive ongoing care with many physicians. Their family sedan is too small to transport Paul and all the equipment he requires. This means that Paul has to do without some of the equipment — such as a stander — that makes his daily routine much easier. The fundraising effort is in response to a very generous offer by a Rotary member who has made available a used handicapped van in excellent condition with a wheelchair lift at more than a third below the book value of the vehicle.
Paul will attend the AppleFest fundraiser as much as possible; his parents, Rotary members, church members and neighbors will also be at the booth for the entire festival. His sensory issues make these kinds of events difficult, but Paul likes to socialize and meet people.
The Delta and Cedaredge Rotaries are also collecting donations on behalf of the project. Monetary donations can be made to Delta Rotary Club, P.O. Box 86, Delta CO 81416. Please note on any check "Duckworth Van Project." The Rotary clubs are already halfway to the goal, through generous donations of Rotary and community members. Marjorie Conner reports that the goal is to raise more than the purchase price so an ongoing maintenance fund can also be established. The clubs are also collecting prize donations for the winners of the "What's A Duck Worth?" contest. For further information contact Marjorie Conner at 856-3352.blog comments powered by Disqus