China Disabled Persons 'Federation

Young man who uses wheelchair admitted to university

Source: Updated: 2018-08-14

Yuan Qiu and his mother clean corn. [Photo from Sina Weibo]

When Yuan Qiu received his admission letter from Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, he smiled broadly from the wheelchair he's used for five years. Then he turned to his mother, Xie Xianlian, who was by his side, and saw she quickly wiped tears away, pretending her eyes were blurred by sand or grit.

The 18-year-old young man is from a poor, rural family in Sanjiao town, Yongchuan district of Chongqing municipality. His father died of lung cancer when he was a child. Yuan was diagnosed with progressive muscular dystrophy when he was three years old, and experiences muscle atrophy and weakness. His older brother, who was paralyzed and confined to bed, died of the same disease at the age of 22. The only family left was Yuan and his mother.

After long-term medication, Yuan decided to stop taking the medicine prescribed for his condition due to its high cost and there was no sign his health was getting better.

The condition worsened as Yuan grew older. He could only walk slowly on flat ground and relied on others to carry him up and down stairs. When he was 14 years old, he could no longer stand up and had to use a wheelchair.

At first, his mother wavered between continuing Yuan's education and saving money for treatment. People around them, including Yuan's stepfather, doubted if it was worth it for Xie to continue her son's studies.

But Yuan was determined. "I must go to school or I will be absolutely useless," he said.

So Xie made a promise to herself: "I will never let my son drop out." To her relief, Yuan was always willing to help her with farm work as much as he could.

Yuan and his mother's perseverance moved many people and also won the support of his teachers and classmates. Students raised money and bought a wheelchair for Yuan, while the school built a special ramp near the school building entrance to improve wheelchair access.

Yuan chose to board at school for the convenience and his classmates accompanied him and took care of him every day. With their help, Yuan never missed a class.

"He never asked for more because of his disability," one of Yuan's teachers, surnamed Tang, said. "His strong attributes unconsciously encouraged me and the students."

Yuan's stepfather also changed his attitude after seeing Yuan's persistence and aspiration to study and gain knowledge. "I never complain to him, it is a loss that they (Yuan's mother and stepfather) didn't get the chance to read," Yuan said.

Through his own efforts, Yuan scored 670 in this year's gaokao, the college entrance exam. The Southwestern University of Finance and Economics said they will arrange a job for Xie, so she can better take care of her son while he is at university.


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