CHARDON -- The only wheels Nick Walczak's had any control over in the past six months have been on a wheelchair.
The 18-year-old Chardon High School senior was paralyzed in the school shooting that killed three of his classmates on February 27th.
Since then donations have poured into the Chardon Healing Fund to help the victims and their families and cover other community needs.
Kimm Leininger, Executive Director of the United Way and Healing Fund board member says 86-percent of the Fund has gone to help the financial needs of those directly impacted by the shooting. In Nick Walczak's case it meant a car fitted with hand controls that he would be able to drive.
Leininger says initially the Fund wanted to buy a van, which could have cost $60,000. Nick asked for a car which was about $20,000 cheaper. Junction Auto actually added a few extra features on the Chrysler 300 on their dime, and MC Mobility took care of the hand controls.
"I lost my freedom on February 27th, today I got it back," Nick says.
His mom, Holly, is overwhelmed and grateful for the generosity of the community. "The community bought him this car. This is the happiest I've seen him in six months. It's a dream come true and we plan on giving back ourselves soon," Holly says.
The Chardon Healing Fund covered for living expenses and things like mortgages for the victims families who needed financial help. It also paid for trauma training of local clinicians and will provide a resource officer in the schools.
On September 28th, the United Way is planning on meeting with the schools and community members to decide how best to use the remaining funds. A total of $343,000 was collected.