Helping hands

Construction class steps up to build ramp for soccer player in wheelchair

Helping+hands

Kevin Berns

Michael Chastain holds the board while Bobby Richardson makes the cut, as David Woods and Matt Walker look on.

By Jamie Mills

The gift that every construction class student and teacher was responsible for giving senior Jacob Spiller was simply just a ramp. However, this slanted piece of wood–to assist Jacob in getting inside his house after a recent osteosarcoma surgery–was nothing compared to the gift that Jacob really received that day: love, pride, and eternal gratefulness.

As Jacob was a member of Robert E. Lee’s varsity soccer team, Coach Martin Germany found himself producing an idea that would ultimately change the life of one of his players. After a phone call with Jacob’s parents informing them of their plans to build Jacob a ramp, and confirming these plans with construction teachers David Woods and Bobby Richardson, a remarkable act of generosity began to take place.

“Our students fell in, and they were interested in helping somebody,” Richardson said. “It’s not always about just learning math or English or history, but also real life activities where you see a need and help somebody that’s less fortunate.”

Seeing the good behind the project, a Whitehouse wood supply store sold the materials to Woods and Richardson at cost. Sherwin-Williams donated nearly $300 dollars worth of paint. Every single construction class student followed the skillful lead of Woods during class to cut, measure and shape the materials needed to make this ramp happen.

With a strong passion for the school’s soccer team and an even stronger passion to help others in need, Senior Eric Muñoz took it upon himself to get the soccer team involved. He even sold wristbands with Jacob’s favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 53:3, on them to assist Jacob’s family on medical expenses.

“I didn’t physically get anything. It just made me feel really good,” Munoz said. “I didn’t really get to know [Jacob] that well, but through this project I felt like I knew him.”

Although students were motivated to get the project done, there was initially no rush to complete the ramp. However, when they received the news that Jacob would be arriving home in a week, everyone was kicked into high gear. Fortunately for Woods and Richardson, they were given the day off to begin the installation along with Coach Germany’s wife and former head soccer coach Chastain.

Because the concrete was poured so close to his arrival, Jacob’s first trip up the ramp left slight wheelchair tracks in the moist pavement. Those traces will be there forever–not only to remind Jacob of his first trip up the ramp, but of the sacrifice and love behind it.

“What I got most from all of this was knowing that even though most of the people working on the ramp didn’t actually even know me,” Jacob said, “they still worked just as hard.”