GLENDALE, Ky. — A disabled raccoon is walking for the first time and it’s thanks to six local high school students.

What You Need To Know

  • Boone the Raccoon, a disabled raccoon, was diagnosed with Cerebellar Hypoplasia

  • Central Hardin students designed a wheelchair to help Boone walk

  • Nolin River Wildlife in Glendale, Kentucky is committed to nurturing local wildlife back to health

“Boone the Racoon” is named after Daniel Boone, the famous American pioneer Daniel Boone. The critter came to Nolin River Wildlife in Glendale, Kentucky at just two weeks old and Executive Director Mary Key could tell something was wrong immediately.

“Didn't really know until it was time to walk and then he would just wobble and fall over. So that was when the vet diagnosed him with cerebellar hypoplasia,” Key said.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a developmental condition in the cerebellum that prevents Boone from walking. Nolin River Wildlife is known for helping heal animals to eventually be released into the wild but for animals like Boone, that’s not an option. Animals that cannot survive on their own have a permanent home at the Wildlife.

Key researched different options to help with Boone’s condition including several wheelchairs but were all out of the non-profit’s price range. That’s when Key eventually reached out to the engineering program at Central Hardin High School.

“Mr. Isaac walked through the back door of our engineering lab carrying this raccoon and we had no idea what was going to happen, no idea what was going to come in the future,” said Patrick Lally, sophomore at Central Hardin High School.

That future, building Boone the Raccoon his very own wheelchair. After building prototypes and several trial and error runs, the six sophomores at Central Hardin were successful in helping Boone.

“Making him be able to walk when he's never walked before it's kind of crazy that you helped that raccoon walk for the first time,” Aiden Neagle, sophomore, Central Hardin High School said.

With his wheelchair, Boone can explore the wilderness on any surface whether it be grass, water or gravel just like the famous pioneer he’s named after.

“We made it that way so it’d be easier for the person taking care of him, if they needed to take him anywhere they wouldn't have to carry him around as much and he’ll be able to go over any drain,” said Sebastian Lopez, sophomore at Central Hardin High School.

Boone will serve as an ambassador at Nolin River Wildlife to hopefully inspire others to take a chance on animals like him.

“He has taught me so much about not being so selfish with my time, so much love, he brings so much joy to the kids and the people. He will make a bigger difference in changing people's minds about wildlife than a healthy raccoon by all means,” Key said.

Nolin River Wildlife is doing something special for their school-age volunteers. Last year they named each animal after famous explorers and this year, it'll be inventors.