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Memory of 'Little Kenny' lives in donaton

May 24, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Kenneth Stevens touched many people's lives with his will to live.

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Born with spina bifida, "little Kenny" was expected to live no longer than five years, said his father, Kenneth Raymond Stevens Jr.

Although he was blind, deaf in one ear and had the mental capacity of a 2-month-old, Kenny had the uncanny ability to sense what was going on around him, family members said.

When members of his family would walk into a room, Kenny would burst into laughter.

"He lived because the word 'love' overcomes any doctor's expectations," his father said.

Kenny died in 1998 at the age of 26, but a part of him continued on at Widmyer Elementary School Wednesday.

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His specially designed $3,600 wheelchair was donated to an 11-year-old Widmyer Elementary student with cerebral palsy.

Since his son's death, Stevens had been searching for a special child to whom to donate the wheelchair.

His search was over after Ronnie McIntire, chief deputy of the Morgan County Sheriff's Department, told Stevens about a boy he met during a Special Olympics event at the school. McIntire said he was impressed with Keith Shade after the boy put "all he had" into throwing a ball.

Shade was presented with his new wheelchair during a small ceremony at the school along U.S. 522 Wednesday morning. Stevens, members of his family, and others attended.

Shade has a wheelchair but has outgrown it, and he needed a new one so teachers could take him on field trips and other school events outside the classroom, teachers said.

Shade smiled at those in attendance.

"You're not going to speed in that, are you? I might have to give you a ticket," McIntire said jokingly after the presentation.

Linda Shade, the boy's mother, said expenses for her son have been high. She was not sure of the total. "I know it's been a lot."

Kenny attended and graduated from Marshall Street School, Washington County Schools' special education center, and lived at the Potomac Center, a state institution for the mentally handicapped beside Marshall Street School.

Stevens and his father used to live in Hagerstown but moved to Berkeley Springs in 1991.

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