John Allee has a mischievous smile. In fact, it is more of a grin and it lights up a room.
Allee, 17, has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair most of the time. But his spirit is not confined to the chair. In fact, Allee has earned a reputation around Steamboat Springs High School for being an inspiration because of his positive attitude.
"He's right up there as one of the people who have taught me things and someone I look up to," teacher Brad Weber said.
Allee's family had planned to move to San Antonio this summer, but at the last minute, the plans changed and he is staying in Steamboat Springs. That means he'll get to spend his senior year here.
"It's too hot," was Allee's reply when Weber asked him why he didn't want to go to Texas.
When he thought he was saying goodbye to many of his local friends, Allee put together a slide show of a typical day at Steamboat Springs High School. It included getting off the school bus, using the elevator, going to speech class, goofing around with friends and spending time with Weber. Allee is one photogenic guy that smile seems to take over the pictures.
Several hundred students and staff showed up for the slide show, which was set to Queen's "We are the Champions." There was a burst of applause when it was over.
Allee has made incredible strides in the past year, Weber said. He now speaks in more complete sentences and does things for himself that he couldn't before.
"He wants to be independent," Weber said. "He went from having everything done for himself. In an age when everybody is ready to blame people and is unwilling to work, he's someone that loves to do work."
Allee now opens doors by himself, although it is a struggle, but he would rarely ask for help. One time, principal Dave Schmid went to help Allee and he brushed him away.
Allee also has learned how to type and can log on to a computer by himself. In fact, that's how he worked on organizing his slide show.
Weber said that Allee has a great sense of humor and that keeps him going.
"I'm not someone who gives commendations to people and not just because someone has a disability, but he deserves it," Weber said.
Weber said that Allee has an effect on others because of his intense determination and positive attitude.
"I think they respect him," Schmid said. "He's always got a smile on his face."
Allee laughs a lot, the notorious smile creeping over his face.
"Just his presence in a room makes people feel good," Weber said. "He teaches everybody a lot."
To reach Jennifer Bartlett call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org