BOSTON (CBS) – Jake Marrazzo, 12, is learning a lot of hard lessons about life but his approach to it is inspiring those around him, especially his substitute teacher Melissa Ansley.
“I can’t walk anymore. I originally could when I was little,” Jake said. Jake suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.READ MORE: 'Unfortunate that it came to this,' Brookline school teachers go on strike
“Every morning he would say ‘good morning’ with this big smile and I thought if someone like that can be happy every day what do we have to complain about,” Ansley said.
Jake’s mother Sheryl Marrazzo says her son is a fighter. “It’s like ALS but in children,” she says. “If you can imagine watching someone you love with all your heart struggle it’s hard wrenching.”
Jake lost his ability to walk this year but he’s not letting that get him down or slow him down. “It was hard to drive when I first got it, his name is Panther, I actually named my wheelchair,” Jake said.READ MORE: Bobcat breaks into Vermont home, attacks elderly man inside
The family has been slowly making the home more wheelchair-accessible, but the costs are very challenging.
They started a foundation called 4Jakessake.com. “We didn’t want to move so we decided to suck it up and build an elevator and that’s what we been doing,” Sheryl Marrazzo said.
Two years ago Jake’s teacher Melissa suffered a tragic fall and broke her neck. “He makes me feel grateful because I’m supposed to be in a wheelchair so he pushes me to take the next step,” Ansley said.
Melissa is now running a half marathon for Jake this weekend and she’s hosting a comedy show to help raise money for the family.MORE NEWS: New England Living: Broomstones curling club in Wayland
“I feel grateful for it,” Jake said.