MACON, Ga. — Turning the tassel is a huge accomplishment. High school seniors work four long years to walk across the stage, shake their principal's hand, and finally hold their diploma. For one Bibb County graduate, the journey was a little harder, and the walk very rewarding.
Donnie Person says he accomplished a lifelong goal of his -- walking across the stage at his high school graduation. He says it's important to follow your heart and never give up.
"They're like my backbone. I always know I have support here," Person said.
Donnie Person has cerebral palsy. He hasn't walked the halls of Rutland High School since the eighth grade, but Friday afternoon, he accomplished one of his biggest goals.
"I'm just happy to be standing on my feet again. I am happy that everyone was able to support me because over the course of the four years, it's been hard trying to get to this path," Person said.
Person had major surgery on his legs as a freshman. He had to miss half of the school year because of it.
"I feel that whenever you say you want to give up, you shouldn't say that, because lots of people, maybe the whole world, could support you. You wouldn't know," Person said.
One of Person's fans includes his principal Wendy Pooler.
"Donnie is the type of student that is always entering the building with a smile. Ironically, he's never late for class. He submits assignments on time. He's quick to tell you, 'No, I can do it by myself,'" Pooler said.
Another one of his fans is his graduation coach Alysie Bluford.
"His light shining so bright, it takes away a lot of the darkness we have in the world," Pooler said.
"To know his story, but to also to know his strength -- he is a story within a story," Bluford said.
He has a twin brother who graduated with him Friday. They are the first males in their family to get their high school diplomas.
"I'm glad that I persevered through everything. I'm glad I overcame my struggles. I'm glad that I could be even better than what I was before," Person said.
Person says after he graduates from college, he wants to open his own therapy business and help others just like himself. Person will attend Middle Georgia State University in the fall and plans to major in business.