He Came Up With a Wheelchair Challenge. It Landed Him in the White House.


Archer Hadley was stuck outside the front doors of his high school in Austin, Texas on a rainy day last fall. The 18-year-old has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, so some tasks, like opening heavy doors, are difficult for him. As he worked to pry open the school doors just enough to slip inside the building, he realized how he could make his high school more accessible — he would work with the school on installing automatic doors at three of its entrances.

When he was told the doors would cost $40,000, Hadley created the “Wheelchair Challenge,” a fundraiser where students at Austin High School challenged each other to spend one full day in a wheelchair. When a student challenged someone, he or she paid $20 to go toward building the doors. His project caught on, and people who don’t attend the school began sending in donations. Hadley raised more than $87,000, enough to make every entrance at Austin High School more accessible for students using wheelchairs, KXAN News reported.

Meanwhile, some of Hadley’s classmates were catching his story on camera. They compiled his project into a short documentary, The Archer Hadley Story, which was among 15 student-made films selected from more than 1,500 submissions to screen at the second annual White House Student Film Festival, Disability Scoop reported. Festival submissions all focus on service and giving back to the community. President Barack Obama honored the students’ efforts at the White House on Friday, March 20. Hadley and the students who made the film attended.

“Archer is giving back to his community by providing the ability for students, faculty and any visitor who comes to our school to feel welcome,” Nicole Griffith, Director of the Academy of Global Studies at Austin High School, says in the documentary below. “This project is going to help the community for years to come.”

Watch the entire documentary about Hadley’s project below.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Cerebral Palsy

To Anyone Who’s Ever Given the ‘Pity Smile,’ Please Read This

When we head out into the world, there’s no missing us. I understand that. Not only is my daughter, Lu, in a wheelchair, but she has to have a chest harness in addition to the regular lap belt. Otherwise, she’d fall out. She needs to have her feet buckled in to keep them still and [...]

How My Brother’s Epilepsy Changed Me

Dear Epilepsy, I first met you when I was 5, although I don’t remember much about that. Only the sound of sirens, as paramedics took my brother away. You came once more in brief flashes, small seizures dotting my preteen existence. I never thought you were a big deal. And maybe that was the problem. [...]

To the Disorders That Left This Mom Heartbroken

Dear Cardiofaciocutaneous (CFC) Syndrome and Epilepsy, When I found out I was expecting a baby girl, I was full of joy. I had so many plans for my baby girl, who we named Harley. I would get to watch Harley enjoy her favorite foods, run, and play dress up. I would get to help her [...]

My Response to the Doctors Saying, ‘You’ll Never Walk or Talk’

Dear Cerebral Palsy, Growing up with you and not really knowing what you were, I would often ask myself, “Will I always have this awkward chicken wing attached to me?” My adolescent response: “Yes, I guess, but it can’t get any worse.” Those words still ring true, continuing to play a prominent role in my [...]