GoFundMe sends film crew to observe day in senior’s life after campaign to buy new wheelchair raises over $32,000

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GoFundMe sends film crew to observe day in senior’s life after campaign to buy new wheelchair raises over $32,000

Senior Ibrahim Samia tries out his new power wheelchair.

Senior Ibrahim Samia tries out his new power wheelchair.

Catherisa Apostol

Senior Ibrahim Samia tries out his new power wheelchair.

Catherisa Apostol

Catherisa Apostol

Senior Ibrahim Samia tries out his new power wheelchair.

Vijay Vanathayan, Lirim Krasniqi, and Suriya Sundaramurthi

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After the success of Watkins Mill High School’s GoFundMe campaign to raise money for senior Ibrahim Samia to get a new wheelchair, GoFundMe sent a film crew to capture a day in Samia’s life on February 5.

Samia was born with athetoid cerebral palsy.  In the past few months, the community inside and outside of the walls of Watkins Mill have helped raise $32,470, in order to fund a brand new custom-fit wheelchair for Samia.

Because this was such a huge accomplishment, GoFundMe wanted to share  Samia’s story with a wider audience in order to encourage others to use GoFundMe for supportive causes.

To properly showcase Samia’s story, GoFundMe hired Voda Films videographer Noah Carlson and videographer Josh Colegrove through an agency called Conscious Minds. “I have produced a lot of life changing stories but this one stands out to me,” Carlson said.

[The email from GoFundMe about the film] was an awesome [one] to get…they have thousands of stories a year… and they want to showcase our story,” biology teacher Matthew Johnson said.  Johnson started the fundraiser to support Samia last year and has been overwhelmed with the positive support from the community.

“Seeing the power that a community has when they rally together for a cause… [is] a beautiful thing,” Carlson added.  “The overall vibe of this school is obviously built on community, trust and respect for each other. I wish my high school was this cool.”

The overall vibe of this school is obviously built on community, trust and respect for each other. I wish my high school was this cool.”

Carlson and Colegrove came out to Watkins Mill to film Samia’s trial fit for his custom wheelchair, his daily life, and the Watkins Mill community.  In the morning, they filmed Samia arriving at school and the raising of the American flag by the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

“I think that this story speaks highly of our student body and our staff.  It shows that we care and that people who have disabilities are important, and we want them to have as normal a life as they can,” principal Carol Goddard said.

During third period, Rehabilitative Equipment Professional’s representative Paul Garner, and InterACT Team physical-therapist Dave Marriott helped Samia switch from his 5-year-old chair into the brand-new chair with a cushion specifically molded for him.  Once Samia switched to the new chair, his satisfaction immediately increased ten-fold.  Using the built-in head array, Samia could control the chair just by moving his head.

Following the trial fit and test drive, Johnson set up a pep rally in the mixing bowl during lunch.  The cheerleaders and pom squad both performed, and Samia was presented with a giant check for his new wheelchair.  The cheering crowd radiated school spirit, and Samia’s smile never left his face.

“Our goal was realized right before our eyes,” Johnson said. “[It was] like the planets had aligned, everyone’s hard work [had] paid off.”

Our goal was realized right before our eyes,” Johnson said. “[It was] like the planets had aligned, everyone’s hard work [had] paid off.”

“It’s very touching.  I will cry when I see [Samia] in that brand new wheelchair,” Goddard added.  “I’ve seen him practice in one and it’s just so freeing for him.”

Samia’s story warmed the hearts of many, bringing many people around him during his special day a few months in coming. “He [was] excited,” Johnson said. “He [was] nervous though.”

Goddard was thrilled to see the positive energy of Watkins Mill being shared with the world at large. “We should be talking about the good things that go on at this school,” Goddard said.  “And trust me, there’s a ton of good things going on.”

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