CHESTERTOWN - Scott Remington, victim of a 1999 logging accident locally, rolled his wheelchair up behind the tall lectern at the North Warren High School graduation ceremonies June 26.
Some in the audience wondered why Remington, who's dealt with limited mobility since he suffered a serious spinal cord injury, wasn't handed a portable microphone.
But their question was answered definitively when Remington stood up from his wheelchair and delivered an inspirational speech to the graduates.
In the context of his experiences recovering from the debilitating accident, he offered advice.
Remain true to your friends, stay determined and driven, always have hope, and give back to your community, he advised.
Remington, a 1984 graduate of North Warren, said he had learned the importance of friendship and deep community bonds when he received handmade Get Well cards from local students.
Saturday, he returned several of the cards to the students, with a directive.
"As you face your own trials in life, these letters will remind you that you made a difference in someone else's life," he said, noting that receiving these cards in 1999 boosted his recovery. "You lifted the spirits of a broken man and showed him you cared."
He also said there was nothing more precious in life than such bonds with others.
"I am here today because of the support of my family, friends, and this small close-knit community," he said.
Remington's daughter Jenna is a member of graduating class.
He praised the graduates for their continuing expressions of concern and caring - whether it was volunteering for his annual fundraiser for charity, or merely opening a door for him, or sporting a genuine smile. Such traits provided evidence of their great character, he said.
"Whatever you did, you always made me feel welcome, accepted, wheelchair and all," he said.