The Grapevine-Colleyville ISD community recently came together to present high schooler Zakai Clay with a heartwarming gift.
A crowd gathered at Colleyville Heritage High School (CHHS) to surprise Clay, who has cerebral palsy, with a brand-new wheelchair-accessible van painted in Cowboys blue on October 27.
The van was purchased after a fundraising campaign reeled in over $68,000. This included three sizeable donations of $10,000 from ATI Foundation, $15,000 from Dispatch Wrecker Service LLC, and $26,000 from Grapevine Elks Lodge.
“Our GCISD community is a family,” Superintendent Brad Schnautz said, according to Community Impact. “We rally around one another and support each other — that’s just who we are. I am so appreciative and grateful that people from across the entire GCISD community had a part in Zakai’s story. This moment just exemplifies how special our community is.”
The initiative began when Clay was unable to attend a homecoming football game in September due to his mother, Jamie Foster, not being able to drive him there. He had been named as part of the homecoming court, making his absence all the more noticeable.
Although Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s special education services department and transportation services later came together to make sure Clay would have special needs vans available to help him go to important district events in the future, it did not change the fact that his mother did not have a vehicle capable of transporting his 350-pound wheelchair.
Foster launched a GoFundMe campaign in September, and the community got to work to help see it take off.
CHHS’s football and cheer teams played their part. They launched “I Roll With Zak” t-shirts, amplifying the fundraiser’s success.
Cheer coach Malloree Gray, who played a pivotal role in the fundraising, told Community Impact that Schnautz’s “Be the One” challenge announced at the start of the year helped propel the project.
“This is my second year teaching [at CHHS], and we all know Zak,” Gray explained, per Community Impact. “We have a cheer mom who’s also a district employee who felt like she needed to ‘Be the One,’ and we need to start it, and I said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ Even down to organizing today, we just wanted to make it happen for him.”
Clay, now a senior, grew up in the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD community, attending Bear Creek Elementary, Heritage Middle School, and now CHHS.
The grand reveal of Clay’s new van left many in tears and Clay’s mother gushing with gratitude.
“GCISD is like family,” said Foster. “The things that they have done to accommodate Zakai since he’s been in kindergarten, I just don’t have the words for it.”