Oak Mtn. junior wins volunteer award: Woolley uses cerebral palsy to help others with disabilities

SPECIAL TO THE REPORTER

An Oak Mountain High School student has been named one of Alabama&8217;s top two student volunteers by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards &045; America&8217;s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteerism.

Zachary Woolley, 16, a sophomore at OMHS, has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.

Despite his own disability, Wooley recently helped raise more than $10,000 to find a cure and to purchase essential equipment for a little girl in Poland, who also has the disease. &8220;My parents have always taught me that I can be mad and a jerk, or I can really like life and help others understand disabilities,&8221; Wooley said.

So, since he was 3-years- old, Zachary has helped educate others about cerebral palsy as a spokesperson for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) and a champion for the Children&8217;s Miracle Network.

Two years ago, Woolley and his family produced and sold a special edition Royal Christmas ornament, depicting him sitting in his wheelchair next to Santa Claus, to raise money for UCP.

While working on the project, Woolley discovered that the artist in Poland, commissioned to create the ornament had a daughter with cerebral palsy.

Woolley worked with fellow student government officers at his school to sponsor an event that raised enough money to purchase both a wheelchair and a bathing chair for the little girl. He is the son of Michael and Laurel Woolley.

Mrs. Woolley, technology program area specialist for Shelby County Schools, said she is extremely proud of her son and his accomplishments. &8220;It is overwhelming for me because he has worked so hard,&8221; said Mrs. Woolley.

&8220;He has a lot that he has to struggle with on a daily basis, so I am grateful that he still has the desire to want to help other people.

He could be at home feeling sorry for himself, but he isn&8217;t.&8221;

As one of the two state winners Woolley will receive a $1,000 award, engraved silver medallion and trip to Washington, D.C. for national recognition events May 5-8.

Shannon Edsall, 16, from Thompson High School, was also recognized as one of four Alabama students named as a Distinguished Finalist for the award.

She was recognized for her work in conducting environmental education workshops for over 1,000 children and 100 adults statewide.