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Winner by a landslide: Student with cerebral palsy is class president

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By Nathan L. McBroom

When Austin Crowe had the idea to run for freshman class president, some might have thought that a boy with cerebral palsy couldn't do the job, let alone get elected to office. But, as he has done throughout his life, Crowe overcame the odds and won the election by a landslide.

Crowe, 15, said that when the announcement came across the intercom that he had won by an 80 percent majority, his classmates overwhelmingly voiced their support.

"My whole class erupted," he said. "I almost fell out of my chair."

Crowe, whose disability hinders his speech, reading, and some movement of his right side, knows most of his classmates by name and walks through the halls of Shelby County High School constantly greeting friends and giving high-fives.

Austin's mother, Danielle Crowe, said that her son has overcome numerous trials to get to where he is today. When Austin was born, she said that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and cut off his air supply. This impaired his physical and mental development. The doctors later told the family if Austin had been born a few days later, he would have died.

But, through physical therapy and the constant encouragement from his family, Austin has been strong enough to play sports in school and able to excel in and outside of the classroom.

Kristian Campbell, Austin's campaign manager, said that he knew he would win the election from the beginning.

"Everybody knows him," he said. "He's everybody's buddy."

Campbell said that Austin's disability did not play any part in the election and Austin said that many of his friends do not know that he has a disability until he tells them.

During his term, Austin said that he hopes to work for unity within the freshman class and advocate for more fundraisers to be held to support events.

Austin's English teacher, Jennifer Oates, said that watching Austin run for class president has been inspirational. She said that his smile and kind nature brighten her days.

"He has made an impression on my life," said. "He is always so positive."

Oates said that Austin has not only had an impact on her, but also on other special education students in his class.

Oates said that she hopes Austin will go on to college and possibly continue his career in politics.

And like all politicians, Crowe is never short for words.

"I'm a chatterbox," he said. "I love to talk to people."

Oates said his infectious spirit has had a positive effect on her entire class.

"I have kids who would not talk previously, who will now talk up a storm because they see how Austin is willing to (communicate with others)," she said.