Student’s ‘Mr. Maroo Wheelchair Challenge’ Rolls On

30 Oct

by Archer Hadley

Editor’s note: Columnist Roger White steps aside for this edition to let readers in on this remarkable young person’s ambitious project—to raise enough money to have automatic doors installed at Austin High School so he can enter and exit the school without assistance. Austin High senior Archer Hadley has cerebral palsy, and he has the heart and courage of a champion.

Dear Readers,

I am a senior at Austin High School in The Academy for Global Studies Program. The program is Advanced Placement studies with a focus on global education. As a senior in this program, I am required to complete a semester-long project in a class called Capstone. The purpose behind the class is to take on an initiative that gives back to the community. Last year, I decided that my project was going to be raising funds to install automatic door operators at five entrances in our school. For three years, I have begged for operators to be installed so that I can independently enter and exit the building. Thus far I have been dependent on the availability and kindness of others to help me in and out. The “out” isn’t so hard because I can put my chair’s joystick to the metal and ram the door open with my feet (thankfully, no broken toes, only broken footplates). The “in” is impossible. There is no way I can do it—and, honestly, it’s very disheartening.

Anticipating the Capstone claMr Marooss, I started my due diligence and research for this project in August before school commenced. There have been many steps along the way and a lot of challenges, but I have waded through them. My first task was to get permission from my principal to take on the project. She agreed without hesitation. Next, I contacted an automated door company requesting their assistance. I got a response the next day and met with their representative at Austin High the same week. One week later, after reviewing my case with the president of the company, they sent me a price of $8,000 for five door operator units. I was ecstatic because that was quite a deal! Next I contacted Austin ISD to discuss the process for installing the electrical equipment. The cost is estimated to be $6,250 per door, making the grand total I need to raise approximately $40,000.

For a brief moment, I thought that was insurmountable. Then I decided it was time to get to work to figure out how I could raise that much money. I decided to launch the “ALL ACCESS for Austin High” Campaign, which began October 20 and will run until December 21. As part of the campaign, I planned a “Mr. Maroo Wheelchair Challenge.” (Mr. Maroo is my school mascot.) The challenge lasted 10 school days and entailed students and teachers paying to challenge each other to spend a day in a wheelchair. Those who opted out were asked to “buy out” of the challenge. The idea was to have fun but also to enlighten the ABLE-bodied to the life of the disABLE-bodied. I had posters and stickers (donated by EZDesigns) throughout the school advertising the challenge; t-shirts (donated by AJL Advertising); and eight wheelchairs (supplied by National Seating and Mobility) for use by “challengees.”

As of this writing, we are about halfway there. Obviously, I have a lot more money to raise outside of the Mr. Maroo Challenge. That’s where you can come in! This mission is personal to me, but it will also benefit all those who come after me. Currently, there are three other students at Austin High who are in wheelchairs. They, too, struggle like I do, to be independent while at school. It’s truly humiliating, frustrating, and humbling to have to wait outside a closed door for someone to come along to allow us access to the building.

Please see this as a way to help others who need help, to help those who desire greater independence. Please give what you can. Online gifts can be made by visiting the Austin High School Website at and clicking on the “ALL ACCESS for Austin High” Campaign button. You can also send a check, made payable to ALL ACCESS for Austin High, to Ray Blue, Austin ISD Office of Innovation and Development, 1111 West 6th Street, Suite C150, Austin, Texas 78703. For more information, you can e-mail, call, or text me: or; 512-981-9855 (me); or 512-981-9226 (my mom, Barbara).

158a. Archer HadleyThank you for any assistance you can provide. One of my goals is to make our school’s slogan, “Everyone is Someone at Austin High,” come true through allowing all students equal access. I desire for every student to develop independence and gain confidence as they progress through their high school years.

Loyal Forever,


Editor’s Endnote: Go here to meet this amazing guy: 

Roger White’s “This Old Spouse” column will return (like it or not) in the next edition of the Oak Hill Gazette. White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit


2 Responses to “Student’s ‘Mr. Maroo Wheelchair Challenge’ Rolls On”

  1. Kay Birdwell October 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    Thank you so much for giving Archer space to promote his Capstone project. This is one of the best projects from the AGS program I’ve read about so far. His personal experience with the need for automatic door openers for handicapped students makes his presentation that much more powerful. My daughter was also an AGS student and frankly, her Capstone project was pretty lame. I will definitely be contributing to Archer’s project and I hope this article will help him reach his goal soon.

    • oldspouse October 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      Thanks so much, Kay. I’m learning more about Archer by the day. He’s an Eagle Scout. He didn’t tell me that; I found it out from a Statesman article. What an amazing young man.

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