High School Yearbook Names Wheelchair Athlete ‘Most Accident Prone’

Chauncey Wulf said he was unaware of the designation in the yearbook's "superlatives" section until after they were handed out and students began to tease him

An Illinois high school is reprinting yearbooks after a student who uses a wheelchair was named "most accident prone."

Chauncey Wulf, a senior at Eisenhower High School in Decatur, was partially paralyzed in a car accident as a child. He is a member of the Peoria Wildcats wheelchair basketball team and won an Illinois High School Association state championship in March.

Shortly thereafter, Wulf was recognized as the National Wheelchair Basketball Association's Nike Player of the Month, and plans to sign a letter of intent later this month to play at Southwest Minnesota State University - all accomplishments that he and his family said they wish the school had highlighted in the yearbook, rather than his disability.

Wulf said he was unaware of his designation as "most accident prone" in the yearbook's "superlatives" section until after they were handed out, discovering the title he'd been given on Friday when he went to his psychology class and students began to tease him about it.

"I saw that kids were laughing about it and taking pictures, and I saw it on Snapchat and that's when I really realized what had happened," Wulf said.

"I was in shock at first," he said. "I didn't expect them to do that."

Wulf said he went home and told his grandmother, and she told his mom - who said she "didn't want to believe it either."

Crystal Wulf said she then took Tuesday off work and went to the school to see the yearbook herself. She said when meeting with the yearbook teacher, he told her they didn't label him based on his disability.

"I said, 'Why then? This is your chance to tell me why, because my feelings are hurt,'" Crystal Wulf recalled telling him.

"He said, 'I thought it was really funny, and then I asked the kids and they thought it was funny," she said. Later that day, she wrote in a Facebook post - that has since been shared hundreds of times - that he also told her it was "because he is always in his wheelchair bumping into walls and stuff," and that he "figured it would be fine" because the students voted for him in that category.

"Curious how many of you will laugh when seeing Chauncey fall out his wheelchair?" Crystal asked on Facebook. "It's so funny right? Should probably make fun of him in front of all his peers right? Make him the joke of the school that his wheelchair makes him accident prone? NOT EVEN CLOSE," she continued, calling the superlative a "low blow."

The Decatur Public Schools district said in a statement that "the yearbooks will be collected and students will receive a reprinted copy with the superlative section removed."

"These common categories voted by students are a way to represent memories and personalities of the graduating class and have been included in the yearbook for the past several years," the district's statement said.

But Crystal Wulf said that despite the plans to reprint, roughly 75 copies had already been sold - with no promise that they would all be turned in.

"The damage has been done and they already said some of the kids won't return theirs," Crystal Wulf said, adding that administrators apologized to her privately but have yet to apologize to her son.

"There are so many thing they could have recognized him for and I think that's what hurts the most," she said, highlighting his accomplishments in wheelchair basketball. "But if you're going to leave him out, leave him out entirely, don't pick the one thing to taunt him about that he's struggled with his whole life."

Chauncey Wulf said he feels he's represented his school well and doesn't know why this would have happened - but he feels it's important to speak out against bullying.

"The majority of the community is supporting me," he said, "but there are some people who tell me 'it's just a joke' and I should let it go."

"I know that I'm not the only person in a situation like this," he continued. "I owe it to all the other people out there who don't have a voice, I owe it to them and to myself to speak up," he added. "If I can voice my struggle then maybe they can voice theirs."

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