This New York teenager hasn’t wasted his summer. Despite the pandemic, Nicholas Lent has spent his summer honoring the sacrifices of veterans and even overcoming his own obstacle – a debilitating disease.
Lent was born with a rare condition called Hanhart Syndrome, impacting his limbs. For the last year, he has used a wheelchair to get around, but with his High School graduation coming up, he decided it was time to get up on his own two feet.
Marion Jr.-Sr. High School in Wayne County, New York gave each graduating senior their own ceremony to comply with coronavirus guidelines and when it was time for his, Lent stood up on his newly-remade prosthetics to walk across stage with a special walker and get his diploma, reported ABC 13.
Lent says the entire walk he was just telling himself “Keep going. Keep trucking,” and thinking of his late grandfather, a Vietnam War veteran who always told him to never give up.
“I would’ve loved to have him be there, but I know he was there in spirit,” Lent said.
After graduation, Lent and his family went on a trip to South Carolina. On their way home, the family drove through rural Pennsylvania, where Lent saw banners of veterans hanging up throughout town. And that’s when Lent realized he has found that perfect way to honor his grandfather.
Once the family arrived home, Lent made 28 banners of veterans with the help of his mother and local businesses. Included in the 28 were his grandfather, his great-grandfather who fought in WWI, and even his sister, who is currently in England with the U.S. Air Force.
Lent says it was “the coolest project.” The banners now hang on Buffalo Street and Main Street in Marion, New York.
“Nothing really stops me,” chuckled Lent. “[I enjoy] proving them wrong and doing it anyways.”
Information on the History of Hometown Heroes project, the organization that helped hang and create the veteran banners both in Virginia and New York, can be found here.