In Arkansas, the story of two high school friends, Tanner Wilson and Brandon Qualls, has gone viral as a result of a selfless act that shows not only the power of friendship but also of compassion.
Brandon, who is wheelchair-bound, has had to push himself around manually for years. Getting from class to class at Caddo Hills High School had become a chore for the teenager.
"My arms would get really tired," Brandon told News9 TV.
Tanner, who knew that his friend was struggling, spent two years working his part-time job at a local car mechanic shop to save enough money to buy Brandon an electric wheelchair, his mother Colleen Carmack told CNN. Tanner gifted Brandon the wheelchair at school, sharing a lesson in kindness with his classmates.
Meanwhile, Brandon was overwhelmed.
"They came in and my face just blew up," he told News9. "I was just crying everywhere. I was like, 'Wow I can't believe he did that for me.' It's been my dream to just have one of these. And my dream came true. He's just always been there for me.”
Tanner explained that he just wanted to show his friend that he cared since Brandon has always been there for him. Carmack told CNN that her son has been moved by all the media attention and is overjoyed when he reads online messages about his effort. She says the attention is well-deserved because they’re “both great and wonderful kids."
However, Carmack was not surprised by her son’s selflessness. She has tried to instill in him that you get nowhere by being self-centered. She says Tanner has endured some hardship over the past year, so being able to do something good for someone else has left him with a sense of accomplishment and a determination to continue doing for others.
"We're talking about college. He's had that goal, but he's talking about it more now," she said.
Tanner and Brandon have reportedly been friends for many years and the two share an interest in cars and trucks. Carmack would like Brandon to have a car to carry his wheelchair since for now, it has to stay at school because his parents’ car is not wheelchair accessible.
Ginger Wray, one of Brandon's teachers, told KTHV that she lent Tanner a hand with the chair by painting orange flames on the fenders and printing Brandon's last name "Qualls" on the back. Teacher Kathy Baker added that she wasn’t surprised by Tanner’s gesture.
"He loves to do for others," Baker said. "He is just a great young man."
Tanner has also managed to inspire his classmates, who continuously as him if it was worth working for two years to buy his friend an electric wheelchair.
"Yeah," he responds. "100%."