Community holds parade to celebrate high school graduation of 20-year-old man with disabilities

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PARMA, Ohio (WJW) — A local young man who overcame tremendous odds to graduate was honored with a very special and extra loud surprise parade Wednesday night.

Twenty-year-old Shea Pauley was born with multiple challenges including being legally blind, with only 10% vision in one eye, but still always loved school and defied the odds of doctors by graduating.

“When he was born, he wasn’t supposed to live past 7-months and now here he is graduating and we’re so happy for him,” said his mother, Jessica Smith.

They were looking forward to a big celebration, but couldn’t have one because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, the community brought the party to him and made sure it was extra loud.

“With him being mostly blind, the loud noises, anything loud has always hyped him up,” said Smith.

Organizer Brittany Sears with Balloonatics decorated the family’s front yard and then made sure all of the vehicles in the surprise parade had noisemakers.

Parma firetrucks kicked things off followed by dozens of cars, revved up motorcycles and finally Parma police cruisers with sirens.

“It was awesome,” exclaimed Shea, who was wearing his cap and gown, smiling and waving the entire time. “I really like the firetrucks.”

At one point, firefighters even replaced Shea’s graduation cap with one of their official fire hats, nearly bringing his parents to tears.

“I just love him and I’m very, very proud of him and glad he’s come as far as he has,” said Smith. “Anything that he’s been asked to do he’s determined to strive and make it happen.”

The parade lasted about thirty minutes and afterward those who participated told FOX 8 News that they’re the ones who feel honored to be part of Shea’s big day.

“It just means everything,” said Brittany, fighting back tears. “Everybody’s fighting their own battles, everybody has something, I have a lot of disability in my family and this just means everything that the community gets together to celebrate a young man like this.”

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