United friends spearhead 'Wheels for Walker'
MS victim's solid pals through the years


From left; Jake Shackleton, John DeSordi, Steven Pisauro, Kyle Walker, Brad Wohlleber, Jack Sweatt and Hunter Gallo Photo courtesy of Jake Shackleton

By Laurie Gordon
NEWTON — When he was about age seven, Kyle Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The disease can be difficult for anyone of any age, but particularly for a kid. That's where six friends come in. Over the years, they've been by Walker's side through the ebbs and flows of MS, and now, these six guys are spearheading “Wheels for Walker” to help their friend get a specially equipped car.
“We are all either juniors or sophomores at Kittatinny,” said Jake Shackleton. “We're all great friends with Kyle and three of us went to McKeown Elementary School with Kyle.”
The group of guys are: Shackleton, John DeSordi, Bradley Wohlleber, Jack Sweatt, Hunter Gallo, Steven Pisauro and of course, Kyle Walker.
Over the years, the boys have been tried and true friends with Walker, a vital part of their group. They're a tight-knit lot and do just about everything together.
“Not many people have made fun of him or anything like that,” Shackleton said, “But when one of us (very rarely) do overhear it, we're never slow to let that person know that what they are doing is not okay and will not be tolerated. We all try, in one way or another to regularly remind him that as a group we all appreciate him as a friend. We all care about him for who he is, not for what he is able to physically do.”
“Most everyone at Kittatinny know Kyle,” Shackleton said. “He has been a classmate, a student and a friend to many of us for over 10 years. All that know him would most definitely agree that Walker has a unique sense of humor and a quick wit that almost always catches us off guard.”
He added, “Kyle has always been an integral part of the group despite the fact that he has muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscle disease. Kyle lost the use of his legs a while ago, and has been in a mobility chair for a number of years. Despite his disability and the increasing pain that he has gone through, Kyle never wants special attention or anyone to feel sorry for him. He is always upbeat and joking around and loves spending time camping, going to car shows and is a huge Carolina Panthers fan. Kyle has been an active participant in KRHS basketball, doing the stats for a few years now.”
In eighth grade, Walker got his first mobility scooter.
“He loved the fact that he could now keep up with all of us,” Shackleton said, “After many miles, several bald tires and a plethora of repairs, his faithful red scooter needed a replacement. His parents got him a brand new Pride Victory scooter, which was higher off the ground and more capable than his old one. Seeing the pure joy spread across his face when he realized he could whip around his yard faster than ever before, made us realize how important it was for Kyle to have mobility. He was able to keep up with us once again.”
As Juniors this year, one of the main topics of conversation of the group revolved around getting their licenses and purchasing our first cars. Finally, independence and freedom like never before.
Shackleton said, “Kyle often chimed in making fun of our selections, but we all knew that deep down, he wished he could get his license and join us. Wait a minute? Why can't he? Could we figure out a way to make it possible for Kyle to drive a car, and experience the same feeling he got when he got his brand new Pride Victory Scooter?”
And so an idea was born “Wheels for Walker": a community wide fund raising effort dedicated to raising money for a mobility vehicle for Walker.
“We are soliciting help from families, our community, local businesses and the Kittatinny Regional High School family,” Shackleton said.
This will involve hosting events throughout the year and each donation will help the group of friends reach it's goal of getting Walker behind the wheel of his mobility vehicle by May, 2019.
These amazing friendships have truly spawned an amazing mission, and this group of friends is bound and determined to see it through and get their friend mobile in the next stage.
The group will have a donation table set up at Jazz in the Parking Lot at Kittatinny High on June 9. They are going to plan a few other events throughout the summer to raise money, possibly including a silent auction. Checks can be made to HTEF with Wheels For Walker in the memo line. HTEF is the Hampton Township Educational Foundation. They can be mailed to Wheels for Walker, C/O Hampton Township Educational Foundation (HTEF), PO Box 478, Augusta, NJ 07822. Tax ID number is 22-3822075. You can also donate through the group's GoFundMe page at: www.gofundme.com/wheels-for-walker