PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Tanner Powell, 18, a senior at Parkersburg South High School, has worked with autistic students in her school throughout her four years. Since she is set to graduate soon, she decided to do something for her peers. She made personalized sneakers.
The idea came from her friend Ethan, an autistic student who Powell said would always get excited when she wore Converse or Vans sneakers.
Powell received donations from Belleville Baptist Church to help purchase 7 pairs of sneakers. She interviewed each of the 7 recipients to see what designs they wanted on their shoes. Then she painted them accordingly with the designs showing everything from SpongeBob SquarePants to a video game console.
Powell says she was emotional when it was time to give the gifts to her friends right before Christmas break.
"I honestly cried because when I gave them the shoes. They all smiled and it was just very heartwarming," she said.
"It was like the gift that kept on giving and I had the big outbreak on Facebook that I did not expect whatsoever and when it happened, it hit harder, that my little step made that big of an impact just for those 7 kids."
She said it wasn't about the price of the shoes, but rather the impact it would make.
"I did it to show them people do care about them," she said.
Powell recently received an offer to study occupational therapy at West Virginia University. She said in the future, she wants to continue working with those who have autism.