Onslow student surprises friend with new jogging chair

Special-needs student doesn't let disability stop her from racing

Onslow student surprises friend with new jogging chair

SWANSBORO, ONSLOW COUNTY - It's the season of giving -- a time to value more than just gifts. One Onslow County high schooler showed the true meaning of that Thursday afternoon.

"Last year, I helped out with one of the special education classes here, and I made a friend," said Brianna Kopinack, a ninth grader at Swansboro High School. "I feel like she understands me when I'm having a really bad day, so I'm happy to have a friend like her."

Kopinack surprised her friend, Kaitlyn Laarman with her own jogging chair. Laarman has Cerebral Palsy, making her unable to walk or talk.

But that doesn't stop her from racing in 5Ks.

"She's so happy the wind is blowing in her hair, her shoes are usually somewhere in the streets somewhere," Kopinack said. "It's the genuine happiness on her face that I just love."

Laarman's mother Lisa wiped away her tears from the surprise. It's the kindness that means the most.

"It means that somebody cares that she can go do things, and not have to stay home," Lisa said.

They have competed in two 5Ks so far. Now, with her very own chair, Laarman is ready for more.

"Being outside and being able to have the opportunity to do it is a great thing for any special needs child," Lisa said. "I would never have been able to get her anything like this, so we wouldn't be able to do this if it weren't for Brianna then."

As they take this chair for a spin, they run toward a new year, more races, an everlasting friendship.

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