Mary Key of Nolin River Wildlife Sanctuary in Glendale, Kentucky, fell in love with an orphaned raccoon named Boone right away.
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A concerned citizen had brought him to the sanctuary after her dog gently carried the raccoon to her in his mouth. The tiny cub was so young that his eyes weren’t even open.
Mary got to work nursing Boone, and as he grew bigger and stronger, she noticed a perplexing issue.
“Boone was diagnosed with a rare disorder, cerebral hypoplasia, that makes it very difficult for him to get around,” Mary said. “He came to us as a baby, and when it was time for him to start walking, I noticed there was a problem.”
His cerebral hypoplasia makes it impossible for him to walk because he flops around and can’t control his limbs. Mary knew she would have to find some sort of wheelchair to help him out, but a quick internet search showed her that these devices are prohibitively expensive.
That’s when Mary had a stroke of genius! She reached out to the nearby Central Hardin High School to see if their student engineers could design a special wheelchair just for Boone.
Engineering teacher Russ Pike thought it was a wonderful idea! Through the project, his students would get to see how much engineering can contribute to a community.
Like Mary, the students were instantly smitten with Boone. Russ said instead of having to force the teens to buckle down and get to work, they dove into the project with both feet! It took a few months of regular visits, but eventually, they presented Boone with his very own wheelchair prototype.
Russ said he and many others actually cried when they saw the look on Boone’s face as he began to use his new wheelchair.
“He gets really engaged and gets a very purposeful look, and when he first moved in the chair, you could see him looking like this is different, and this is good,” the teacher said. “He is absolutely adorable and unbelievably sweet, and now he can get around on his own.”
Typically, the sanctuary tries to return all of their rescued animals to the wild, but Boone’s disability means he’ll stay with Nolin River for life. Now that he’s mobile, he’s exploring the entire sanctuary! He’s even made a new best friend, a massive Great Pyrenees dog named Benton.
“He has this relationship with Benton. They love each other. Benton sits beside Boone most of the day, and if he’s not sitting right by him, he’s keeping an eye on him,” Mary said.
It’s super cute. I’ll put Boone out in the yard, and Benton puts his paw over him. Boone doesn’t have any other animal companions on the ranch, so it’s really nice to see him with Benton. It’s true love.
Mary couldn’t be more grateful to these students and their teacher for helping Boone live his best life! Now he and his fluffy bestie can frolic together for the rest of their days.
Watch Boone and Benton having a blast in the video below, and be sure to share the cuteness with your friends.
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