Jalen Welch-McClain with Emily Millmine (left) and Raymond Maczik of The Standing Company Stand-Up wheelchairs. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Jalen Welch-McClain with Emily Millmine (left) and Raymond Maczik of The Standing Company Stand-Up wheelchairs. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Jalen Welch-McClain will never forget the evening the he collapsed and couldn’t get off the basketball floor while playing a pick-up game at Trinity Friends Church in Van Wert. The plan was to take Welch-McClain to Van Wert Hospital to examine the extent of potential injuries, but his step-grandmother, Jill Welch, saw something she didn’t like in it all and insisted that he be taken to Parkview for in-depth analysis.

Unfortunately, Jill, wife of former Wayne Trace High School legendary coach Al Welch, knew Welch-McClain’s physical background all too well. His biological grandmother (Al’s first wife, Susie) had acquired and passed away from a rare crippling disease known as, “ neurofibromatosis.” Unfortunately, his mother, Amy, daughter of Al and Susie Welch, acquired the same apparently hereditary disease and also eventually passed away.

Thanks to Jill (current wife of Al Welch) and her quick thinking, Welch-McClain was quickly diagnosed with the same hereditary illness at Parkview and treatment began immediately.

Welch-McClain continued to work at the family business, Northwest Ohio Welch Trophy, in Van Wert but things became more difficult and he soon became confined to a wheel chair.

Recently, thanks to keen research and hard work submitted by Welch-McClain’s Opportunities for Ohioans Disabilities (OOD) counselor, Emily Millmine, a new type of Superstand Standing Wheelchair was made available to Welch-McClain and delivered on Thursday at Welch Trophy by The Standing Company representative Raymond Maczik, who counseled Welch-McClain on site to establish his new therapy through the special standing wheelchair.

“This is really a ‘good news’ type story as Jalen will now be able to once again stand himself up,” said Maczik. “Standing up, especially for people stuck in traditional wheelchairs, makes the user healthier and stronger, while increasing independence at the same time.

“Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities continues to strive to help people with disabilities navigate and improved their lives,” continued Maczik. “People like Jalen have a particularly successful experience with this type of a chair because of his positive attitude and continued determination to move forward.”

Millmine said that counselors for OOD individuals work with students and adults age 14 and up, especially those who are actively wanting to achieve their employment goals.

“The medical advantages of Jalen standing are tremendous,” emphasized Maczik. “It helps his muscles to loosen up and he can give himself the best therapy that he can. It prevents surgery and gives him the best back therapy. Whenever he stands, it’s therapy.”

Welch-McClain’s girlfriend, Rachel Mourey, said that her boyfriend has been especially inspirational to her because of his continued positive attitude.

“I feel like a lot of people in his situation would be so down,” said Mourey. “He is so positive about the situation. He still works all he can and does all he can to stay in shape. He never gives up. He makes all of the rest of us around him not want to give up in our tough situations.”

“I’m still busy here at work with my grandpa and cousin,” said Welch-McClain. “I have a good support group of friends that help me stay positive. I’m excited about this new chair. It make me feel a lot more positive to know that I can stand and do things.”