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WITC student receives life-changing gift

(3/20/2017) For many, March 16 was just another day, but for one WITC student it was a day that was life changing. Justin Deragon, who was born with a severe case of spina bifida, is a student of the marine repair technician program in Ashland. On March 16, Deragon received a special delivery on campus: a custom-designed wheelchair from The Standing Company that allows him to stand, providing the mobility he needs to participate fully in class.

"This gift is going to enable Justin to have 100 percent participation in class, and we're really glad to see that," said Tim Edwards, marine repair technician instructor.

Although Deragon has worked with different types of motors his whole life from the wheelchair, he looks forward to seeing the additional opportunities the standing wheelchair will provide.

"The motors in the [marine repair] lab are on stands, and in my normal wheelchair I wouldn’t be able to reach the motors," said Deragon. "The standing wheelchair will definitely make working with the diesel and outboard motors a lot easier."

"Standing independently allows Justin additional opportunities to do more things in life related to activities of daily living, college, career training and future employment opportunities," said Raymond Maczik, vice president of The Standing Company. "Standing is simply all natural therapy for Justin’s body; it can be a life changer."

The standing wheelchair gift was made possible by WITC-Ashland’s accommodations specialist and the Department of Workforce Development Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).

"They paid for everything,” said Deragon about DVR. "They've helped me a lot since I've started in terms of getting this, paying for schooling, paying for tools."

Deragon already has big plans for the standing wheelchair after graduation.

“I’m planning on opening my own shop so when I’m done with school at WITC, the chair will come with me after I graduate and it will make it easier to work outside of school,” said Deragon.

"I don't see myself any different from anybody else," said Deragon. "I can do pretty much anything that anybody else can do if I put my mind to it."

WITC is grateful to all its community partnerships. Your support of the WITC Foundation is essential to student success. For information on how to contribute, visit www.witc.edu/foundation/giving.

A nationally top-ranked college and a designated 2017 Military Friendly® School, WITC serves the educational and career needs of more than 25,000 residents of Northwestern Wisconsin each year. With multiple campuses, WITC offers career-focused associate degree programs, technical diplomas, short-term certificates, customized business training, and a wide array of courses for personal or career enrichment. WITC is a member of Wisconsin Technical College System and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.ncahlc.org). For more information, call 800.243.WITC or visit witc.edu. WITC is an Equal Opportunity/Access/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability Employer and Educator.