Boy injured by bullet celebrates milestone

June 9, 2009 9:23:02 PM PDT
It's a very special graduation day for a Chicago kindergartner.Five-year-old Martrell Stevens walked across the stage to receive his diploma just one year after a stray bullet critically injured him, causing paralysis.

The 5-year-old spends most of his time in a wheelchair. But on Tuesday Martrell was determined to walk as he received his graduation certificate.

Last March, Martrell Stevens, who was 4 years old at the time, was hit by gunfire in the Englewood neighborhood. The boy's mother said the bullet hit her son's spine causing paralysis.

Tuesday is a very special day for Martrell and his family.

The auditorium was standing room only at Jane A. Neil Elementary School. Five-year-old Martrell Stevens sat in his wheelchair and watched closely the kindergarten graduation proceedings.

It was an emotional moment when the young boy got up and walked across the room using a walker with the help of his therapist to receive his kindergarten graduation diploma. He will now be a first grader.

"It wasn't heard. I am going to be smart and I am going to graduate again to second grade," said Martrell Stevens, gunshot vicitim.

"We are so happy that he made it got to walk across the stage with a big smile. Every day, he says I am going to walk, I am going to walk. It is his mind set and it can happen...his spirit is so strong," said Antwoan Stevens, Martrell's stepfather.

Last year, Martrell's mother Keisha Rucker fought back the tears as she watched her son shot in the 6400-block of South Bishop Street. Rucker and her son were in a car when a gunman started shooting at them aiming at her brother-in-law. He shot the boy in the torso. His mother says Tuesday's graduation is a day to celebrate.

"I'm grateful that my son was able to walk across the stage. This is just the beginning right here," said Keisha Ruckerm, Martrell's mother.

In order to walk across the stage, Martell has gone through extensive physical therapy. He plays sports and lifts weights. He has one message.

"Stop the violence. Stop the shooting. Stop the killing. Because I want to grow up," said Stevens.

Martrell got his wish a ride in a limo and was off to celebrate courtesy of Chi-town Limo Service.

Many on Tuesday in the school believe that Martell walking across the stage is a miracle. He is a determined young man who believes he will walk again some day. He is a young boy who has been tested at a very young age and has demonstrated that anything is possible.


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