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Friends build ramp for ailing ex-football star

GOSHEN – When you have good friends, it's amazing what you can get accomplished.

That's a fact Goshen's Kenyon Hartfield is learning first hand this week as his friends, family and numerous community members combine their efforts to build a new wheelchair ramp for him at his parent's home in Jefferson Township.

A 1995 graduate of Goshen High School, Hartfield received a full ride scholarship to Indiana University to play football before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

Travis Peak, a Goshen firefighter and one of Hartfield's best friends since the sixth grade (he is now 36), is among those spearheading the ramp-building project to assist Hartfield, who is now wheelchair-bound.

"Kenyon is one of my best friends," Peak told The Goshen News ( ). "We both went to Goshen High School, we both played football, and we both graduated in 1995. When Kenyon was diagnosed with MS, his life started to go down a different path. But he has since been able to turn that around, and has really started to live his life right and deal with the MS."

Peak said he and some friends actually helped build a ramp at Hartfield's home a few years ago, and got the idea to build a second ramp at his parent's home during Hartfield's most recent birthday this past January.

"His mom actually grabbed me and one of our other buddies, Bobby Jarrett, she kind of cornered us and asked if it would be possible to build another ramp at their house, because on Sundays they like to get together and do the family thing," Peak said. "So we said we'd start putting our heads together and start seeing if we could raise some money."

Good to his word, Peak was able to secure funds through both his local union, the Goshen Professional Firefighters Local 1443, as well as the Goshen Gridiron (Football) Club.

"And I also spoke with Millersburg Lumber, who basically donated some of their driving time and a better price on the wood," Peak said. "Then after that it's pretty much just friends and family that have pitched in to pay for the rest."

Peak said he and a few others began laying out the outline of the ramp Tuesday afternoon, and by late Wednesday afternoon the entire ramp was finished and ready for use.


Information from: The Goshen News