'Never give up': Wichita man overcomes adversity to get diploma

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

It's a moment Darren Thomas will never forget: walking across the stage to accept his high school diploma.

"I'm very proud of myself," said Darren, a graduate of the Wichita Adult Learning Center. "I mean, I put in a whole lot of hard work. It's been like a dream." 

The 58-year-old  has cerebral palsy. Growing up, kids with special needs didn't get to go on to high school. 

But in typical Darren fashion, he overcame adversity and went back to continue his education. 

"Never give up," said Darren. "No one should ever give up. Just go for your goal." 

Darren is well known in the community. He cheers on the Wichita State Shockers every chance he gets, even being escorted to the games by officers.

His work ethic and will to fight has landed him the nickname D-Force.

"Whenever I'm having a rough day, I've called Darren literally because I know Darren has overcame the cerebral palsy and different things that have challenged his body throughout the years and the fact that he just never quits," said Darren's brother William Polite  .

Although Darren's thankful to graduate, it's bitter sweet to leave the his friends and others he's met along the way.

 "It's just been a blessing to everybody," Darren stated. "I'm gonna miss everybody in my class. I just want to thank my teachers and everybody." 

Darren plans on attending special classes at Friends University's next fall, and his teachers couldn't be more proud. 

"He is probably the most hardest working and tenacious students I've had the honor of teaching," said Wichita Public Schools Adult Learning Center Director Dr. Cindy McGilvrey.