Student Won’t Let Debilitating Disease Stop Him

“I want to go into acting, ’cause … I’m really funny. Everybody loves me.”

By Stella M ChávezJune 15, 2016 9:30 am, ,

When KERA News first met Chance Hawkins, he was getting ready to start ninth grade at Fort Worth’s Dunbar High School. He’s now a juniorHe has all the junior year challenges of his classmates, but his personal challenge is even bigger. He’s a battling a degenerative muscle disease. And that makes life more complicated.

Chance will be the first to tell you that he doesn’t dwell on what he can’t do.

That he can’t walk. That he can’t get up without the help of an aide. That he can’t get ready for school every morning without his big brother right there with him, cleaning his face with a washcloth or putting toothpaste on a toothbrush.

“I know nobody in this world is perfect, and God didn’t it want it to perfect,” Chance says. “Because if it was perfect, everybody would just feel like ‘Oh, we all perfect, so we all have nothing to worry about.’”

Chance has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare genetic disorder that affects one in 3,600 boys. Over time, the muscles progressively weaken. In most cases, death comes by age 25.

In his family, Chance isn’t alone in his battle.

His younger brother, Louis, has Duchenne, too. Chance, like everyone else, calls him Junior.

“I’ve been through this, so I know everything. I know what people are gonna say. I just try to keep him to stay strong, to just don’t worry about what people say,” Chance says.

School: A Social Outlet And A Struggle

Chance glides down the hallways at Dunbar in his motorized wheelchair.

The teachers all know him. Students call out his name. He smiles. He likes the attention.

School is Chance’s social outlet. He likes arriving early, so he can have “cafeteria time.” His favorite topic — music. He wants to record, like Chris Brown or Tupac.

“I hang out with everybody,” Chance says. “‘Cause you know, I’m like, I’m the popular kid, so anybody who wants to sit with me, I’ll be with them. Yeah.”

On the academic side, Chance has his struggles. He hasn’t passed the end-of-year exams for English 1 or 2. And that makes him mad.

“If I don’t pass that, then there’s no way I can go to college,” he says. “There’s no way I can even pass high school.”

If Chance doesn’t clear those hurdles, he’ll have to prep and retake the tests.

He has the help of an aide — Reuben Vaughn, who was assigned to Chance at the beginning of the school year.

Read more at KERA News