Hitzeman climbs to new heights


Madeline Hussey, co-sports editor

Senior Joey Hitzeman willingly takes on challenges. Confined to a wheelchair because of his cerebral palsy, Hitzeman took on, and accomplished, a major goal – reaching the top of South P.E’s climbing wall. 

Timothy Monahan, Adventure Education P.E. Teacher, and Hitzeman’s teacher shared Hitzeman’s excitement about the feat. Initially, Monahan worried about the logistics of getting Hitzeman up the wall, but he was excited to get Hitzeman up to the ledge atop the wall, Monahan said. 

“[Hitzeman] is an amazing person and he was all in for the entire experience,” Monahan shared. “He basically said he was ready and excited and we just set everything up and he smiled the entire way.” 

Hitzeman’s climb involved the whole class. While Hitzeman, Monahan, and P.E. teacher Josh Stanton scaled the wall, the rest of the class acted as the belay, pulling Hitzeman’s rope up the wall. Hitzeman had an entire team to cheer him on, including South Principal Dr. Barbara Georges. 

“I felt very accomplished,” Hitzeman said. “I was touched because my entire class was supportive. The climb made me feel more like a part of the class.” 

Even with the extra help from his class, Stanton, and Monahan, Hitzeman still expressed his fears about his climb. 

“I was nervous,” Hitzeman said. “I wanted to make sure I was safe. I knew that Monahan and Stanton would do everything in their power to make sure nothing bad happened but there is always a chance something could go wrong.” 

Hitzeman pushed through his fears, though, and accomplished his goal to make it to the top of the wall. 

“When I was up on the ledge looking out over my class I was thinking about how incredible this experience was for me and how grateful I was that Monahan made it happen,” Hitzeman said. “I feel like I broke a barrier for the kids in the class because they could see firsthand how a person with a disability can participate in challenging tasks.”