By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Proceeds of a June 30 gospel sing will be used to help transform a local mobile home into one that is more fully accessible to an Atmore teen who was left partially paralyzed when a classmate fired into a group of fellow students gathered on the porch of a Fourth Street residence.
The benefit show is set to begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, at Empowerment Tabernacle, located along Peachtree Street in Atmore. Admission is free, but donations from each person who attends is encouraged and will be appreciated.
Charles Johnson, surrogate father to 17-year-old Trent “Big Daddy” Atchison and manager of the youth group The Gospel Voices, said he and co-organizer Ken Staples are calling on all gospel groups, church choirs and soloists to join in making the fundraiser a success.
Atchison, who attends Escambia County High School, was drummer for The Gospel Voices before a bullet from the February shooting ripped through his lung and hit his spine. He was reportedly shot by fellow ECHS student DeAndre Mitchell, who had become enraged after an earlier fight with still another classmate and was among the teens gathered on Fourth Street.
Atchison was the only person hit by the “five or six” bullets Mitchell sent flying from a handgun.
“I am looking to raise money to help the family of Trent Atchison pay for the projects that will make his home more handicapped accessible,” Johnson said. “To make this transition easier on Trent and his family, we are requesting financial support from area churches or businesses, or even a personal donation.”
If a person is unable to give money, Johnson said there are other ways to help.
“A donation of your time, funds and / or material will be greatly appreciated to help accomplish this goal,” he said. “His mother and older brother still have to lift him and carry him in and out of the house and from room to room due to his inability to maneuver his wheelchair in their home.”
Johnson said there are four components to the project.
“We need to widen the doorway to the home so he can gain access in his wheelchair; we need to put a roof over the porch to help protect his wheelchair when he’s outside; we need to add a concrete driveway for easier access in and out of the car; and we need to remodel the bathroom — including the doorway, shower, toilet and sink — to make it handicapped accessible,” he said.
Any group, choir or individual wishing to offer its, his or her talents is encouraged to call Johnson at 251-359-0101 or Staples at 251-253-4416. Those same phone numbers may be used to obtain more information about the sing, or to make a donation.