With Project 24, Students Teach Compassion

By Randy McIlwain
|  Saturday, Dec 4, 2010  |  Updated 11:15 PM CDT
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DISD students teach a lesson in compassion, helping a former student athlete paralyzed in a game last year.

Randy McIlwain

DISD students teach a lesson in compassion, helping a former student athlete paralyzed in a game last year.

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The girls still seem to love him. The fellas still horseplay with him, but life is different for 16-year-old Jared Williams.

 "When I first got injured, I was like, 'What am I going to do?' I thought I was going to be different," said Williams, who was paralyzed in a football game in Oct., 2009. 

The Pinkston High School student wore No. 24 and now his name and jersey number have become a movement called Project 24. 

Students from across DISD collected 24 cents at a time to help raise $96,000 to build Williams' family a wheelchair accessible home.

"They are doing it for me, but they're doing it because their heart is in the right place," said Williams.

Forty students from 12 DISD schools, all wearing the No. 24 jersey of rival schools, played on the same team Saturday morning. Drenched in sunshine and blue skies, the kids worked alongside contractors to help beautify and build the home -- planting sod and flower gardens all over the yard.

 "They talk about all the bad things that goes on in DISD, but now they have to kind of recant," said Alenna Williams, Jared's mother. "And, think about what they say about our kids because they do care. They do have hearts and they do want better things for each other."

The students said the caring, and the project, won't stop with the Williams'.  Project 24 has become a movement bearing Jared's name to help other students in similar situations. In that sense, while Jared may not have the use of his legs, he and his legacy continue to move forward motivating kids to help each other.

The volunteers with Project 24, like Builder's of Hope, which raised money and donated time and materials to the project, hope to have the home complete by Dec. 17.

 The Williams anticipate spending their first Christmas there this year.

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