Special needs teen leaves wheelchair to play in basketball game

BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - It was the shot heard 'round Burke County. The Tuesday night matchup between rivals Freedom and Patton High Schools started off with one of the most celebrated plays of the entire basketball game.

Mitchell Greathouse was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy when he was just a baby. But that's never stopped the Freedom High School teen from achieving his goals. Mitchell is described as Freedom's number 1 fan in all sports, especially basketball.

As a way to encourage Mitchell to take more steps in his assisted walking device, called a gait trainer, Mitchell's teacher Meghan Welty gave him the challenge to leave his wheelchair and take 50 steps in the trainer. If completed, Freedom's basketball coach enthusiastically agreed to let Mitchell start Tuesday night's game.

Mitchell did all 50 steps in one day.

"He's passionate about Freedom High School and he's passionate about letting others see, 'hey, I can reach this goal and we can be a team together'," Welty said.

As the game-opening whistle blew, Mitchell walked out onto the court with the help of his gait trainer and stood under the basket. With hundreds of fans on both sides of the Freedom gym exploding in cheers, Mitchell took the ball and passed it to teammate Niguel Moore.

As Moore took the pass and made a basket, the cheers exploded again as Mitchell was credited with an assist on two points for Freedom's Patriots.

Instead of just cheering from the sidelines, Mitchell gazed at the crowd with a wide grin, as he was a part of the team.

"I think he felt all the love of the community and all the love his classmates give him. All the community came together to support this so I think he just knew he was loved," said Mitchell's mother Cheryl Greathouse.

There was enough love in the Patriot's gym to last for far longer than just one night. Welty says this is something Mitchell won't soon forget, "He'll be talking about this for weeks and probably months to come."

Freedom went on to win the game against Patton, 80-57.

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