Rutland grad takes first steps since 8th grade to receive diploma

"I just got so happy, because I'm just happy to be standing on my feet again," Donnie Person said.
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Rutland High School Grad walks across stage for the first time since 8th grade to receive diploma
Rutland High School

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Graduating from high school is a milestone, but for one graduate, walking the stage was a milestone on its own.

Walking the stage marks the end of four years filled with laughter, joy and homework, but for Donnie Person, it meant so much more.

“It felt unbelievable,” he said. “Because I just felt everybody’s emotions, and I could tell everybody was so happy for me. I just got so happy, because I’m just happy to be standing on my feet again.”

Donnie never walked the halls at Rutland High School. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and stopped walking in the eighth grade.

It’s an obstacle that’s only pushed him to work harder to accomplish his dreams.

“To be here with all my friends and family and have all the teachers I met in the past to still be here and cheer me on, it just felt great, because they’re like my back bone,” he said.

The task of walking across the stage was not easy for Donnie. According to Rutland Principal Wendy Pooler, everyone came together to help Donnie achieve his goal.

It was a moment Pooler says showed Donnie’s perseverance.

“To see him walk across the stage, to see the smile, to look over and see his mom, that’s what graduation is supposed to be about,” she said. “It’s supposed to be about students achieving their goals.”

This was just one goal Donnie says he set for himself.

His next goal is to open his own therapy business to help other kids who are just like him.

“To the future patients at my hospital, I want them to know that they can also follow their dreams and walk across the stage just like me,” he said.

With a diploma in hand, Donnie says he’s excited to see where life will take him next.

Categories: Bibb County, Featured, Local News, WMGT