Veterans gift disabled teen featured in flag photo with standing wheelchair

A wheelchair-bound teen who went viral after his photographer uncle shared a photo of him standing for the flag is in the news again, as a veteran-owned company who saw the photo has stepped forward to gift him with a standing wheelchair.

Arek Trenholm, of Lake County, Florida, was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that causes incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. The 16-year-old has only stood from his chair two times in the last seven years, Fox 35 Orlando reported, with one of those occasions occurring when headlines were dominated by athletes choosing to kneel during the playing of the national anthem. Trenholm was commended nationwide for his efforts to stand during his town’s homecoming parade as the flag passed him.

Veteran Scott Liesch came across the photo of Trenholm and presented it to his employers at The Standing Company, who are also fellow veterans. The Michigan-based group decided to surprise Trenholm with a standing wheelchair to help him gain more independence and be able to stand upright more easily, Fox 35 reported.

“All of us at The Standing Company are thrilled to help Arek and we genuinely thank him for taking a stand regarding his beliefs,” David Maczik, company founder and president, said in a statement. “Arek, I am certain, has a fine future in front of him.”

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Liesch met Trenholm on Thursday and spent time with him to help him navigate the new chair.

“I’m going to be right alongside you to help you along,” Liesch told Trenholm at their meeting, Fox 35 Orlando reported. “You just joined the ranks of the standing.”

Liesch is a paraplegic who also uses a chair, Myron Leggett, Trenholm’s photographer uncle, said.

“It was very impressive the fact that Arek wants to honor the flag in the best way he could at the time just by standing up,” Liesch told Fox 35 Orlando.