Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Law Degree for Tenacious Child with a Mind Open to Possibility

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Law Degree for Tenacious Child with a Mind Open to Possibility

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * After years of wondering if their son would live past the age of 15, Kevin Fritz's parents received the news they'd prayed for upon the completion of a series of operations to straighten his spine and improve his lungs.

"The doctor came out and said, 'You have to educate this kid because everything is going to work out,'" David Fritz recalled Friday afternoon in a voice choking with emotion.

On Friday morning, he watched his son motor a scooter across a stage on the Washington University campus to accept a degree as a law school graduate.

The roots that brought Kevin Fritz to law school in St. Louis were planted in a kid who wouldn't allow the congenital spinal muscular atrophy a form of muscular dystrophy that placed him in a wheelchair from birth to squelch his thirst for knowledge.

"He's was just a tenacious child with a will to succeed like no other," said his mother, Kim Sullivan, of Wilmington, Del.

Those who know him say the law degree Kevin Fritz picked up Friday is a testament to the perseverance of spirit over a broken body.

To Fritz, it demonstrates that independence is never closing the mind and heart to possibility.

A childhood nurse, Elizabeth Pezzulich of Allentown, Pa., remembers a young man who insisted she challenge him with periodic tables and other mental gymnastics.

So it wasn't a surprise that Fritz wanted to attend college once it became clear he had beaten the odds.

What was unexpected was the school the Allentown high school senior set his sights on the University of Illinois, 750 miles from family, friends and the support system that helped him each morning shower, dress and prepare for his day.

Fritz, it turned out, had done his homework and in doing so learned the Illinois campus ranks among the most disability accessible in the nation.

At Urbana-Champaign, Fritz hired a succession of student aides to assist with daily chores that most college kids take for granted. The money to compensate what is now upward of 150 students here and at Illinois is drawn from Medicaid payments. …

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