Louisa teens give five-year-old new spin on life

A special needs student at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School received an extraordinary gift Tuesday morning—his very own go cart. For more than an hour, Brandon Bristow, who has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism, rode the remotely controlled vehicle up and down the halls of Louisa County High School. Though he is non-verbal

Several people came together on Tuesday to present little Brandon Bristow with his cart that was specially adapted by high school students to meet his specific needs. Pictured are (l to r) Jacob Warner, Jacob Bundrick, Henry Truzy, Maj. Tom Bourne, Cassandra Truzy, Brandon Bristow and his parents, Shannon and Gary Bristow.

A special needs student at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School received an extraordinary gift Tuesday morning—his very own go cart.

For more than an hour, Brandon Bristow, who has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism, rode the remotely controlled vehicle up and down the halls of Louisa County High School.

Though he is non-verbal and rarely smiles, the five-year-old’s excitement was apparent to those who know him well, largely in the way he expressed frustration every time the car stopped moving.

“I think it will help with [his] tantrums and mood a lot,” Shannon Bristow, Brandon’s mother, said. “It’s hard to keep him entertained, but anything that spins or moves that I don’t have to chase him with will help.”

The car was given as part of the GoBabyGo program, which provides modified toy cars to children with special needs in hopes of granting them a chance to better explore the world around them.

Louisa County Public Schools Career and Technical Education Coordinator Kenneth Bouwens wanted to bring the program to the community after his daughter, who has cerebral palsy, received a cart of her own in April.

“I really wanted to pay that experience forward to another family,” he said.

Once Bouwens got the ball rolling on the project, the pieces began to fall into place. The congregation at Thessalonia Baptist Church donated the funds for the project, and Maj. Thomas Bourne, a CTE teacher at the high school, took charge.

(Article by Joseph Haney)

This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s June 13, 2019 issue.