Texas teen with cerebral palsy fundraises for automatic doors at school

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – The first day back to school after the holidays will go down in the history books at Austin High School. The campus is now the first in the Austin Independent School District with doors that open automatically thanks one student’s big dream.

Back in October, senior Archer Hadley predicted he would be delivering a victory speech.

An Austin High School football coach takes part in the ‘Wheelchair Challenge’

“It just takes an idea and the guts to strive for it,” Hadley told a crowd of supporters on Monday. “And that’s what I encourage you to do today is strive for your ideas.”

They were motivational words the senior with cerebral palsy has put into action. He crushed his $40,000 goal and raised more than $87,000 in two months to install automatic handicap push button door openers at five doors on campus.

Hadley’s mother, Barbara, says cash is still coming in.

“We just got a $500 check the day before yesterday,” said Barbara.

Glass markers have been placed above the new push buttons to give credit to major donors like Dr. Frank Cho who took care of Hadley for months in the intensive care unit when he was born premature.

“I called the school district and asked them what the balance, what was needed,” said Dr. Cho. “I said you know Archer deserves every bit of it I want him to be able to accomplish his goal.”

But Hadley told KXAN before Christmas break his goal would only be complete if one man in particular cleared his busy calendar for the big reveal.

Gov.-Elect Greg Abbott and Archer Hadley
Gov.-Elect Greg Abbott and Archer Hadley

“Archer Hadley called me out,” said Gov.-Elect Greg Abbott. “He dared and challenged me to show up to help him unveil the product of his hard work.”

Abbott lost the use of his legs after his spine was crushed by the falling oak tree. The two happen to be neighbors who face mobility challenges most of us will never understand.

“Archer Hadley has shown you can do anything you set your mind to,” said Abbott.

And with that, the two rolled over to the entrance of Austin High and pushed the new button together and made their way inside.

So what is the next goal for Archer Hadley? He’s applied to the University of Texas and St. Edwards University. He has been accepted by St. Edwards, but needs a little more money to afford it. But being short on cash doesn’t seem to be an obstacle.


GOING IN-DEPTH // ADA Rules

The campaign at Austin High raises some questions about what schools should and are required to do.

  • The Americans With Disabilities Act specifies interior doors must require no more than five pounds of force to open it. That’s a little more force than it takes to hold a half gallon of milk with one hand.
  • As for fire doors, the ADA says it is up to local fire codes. In Austin, that’s 15 pounds of force.
  • Still, while the automated doors aren’t required, they are considered an enhancement to be ADA compliant.
  • The ADA does require a host of other building features or updates which say doors must be 32 inches or wider and the door handles can’t be higher than 48 inches off the ground.

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