CLEARFIELD — A custodian at Clearfield High School has been a fixture there for nearly 30 years and has overcome some large challenges in the process.
The biggest challenge Jeffrey Weston, of Clearfield, has faced over the years is the cerebral palsy he has dealt with since he was born 45 years ago.
Cerebral palsy impacts each person differently, but usually affects one’s motor abilities.
The condition limits Weston’s ability to walk and talk, but doesn’t affect his ability to serve the students and faculty.
After graduating from Clearfield High School in 1985, he remained at the school as a custodian and has seen many principals, custodians and students come and go from the school.
One thing has remained unchanged through the years: Weston’s popularity among the students.
Weston jokes that he might need a bodyguard someday. The students regularly talk with him throughout the day ‑— shouting out greetings and exchanging jokes.
He knows so many students from his years at the school, he can’t walk through the mall without someone saying hi, said his mom, Joelyn Weston, of Clearfield.
“There’s not a place he goes that he doesn’t see someone he knows,” she said. He even ran into two people he knew from the school while on a cruise in Alaska last year.
Weston seems to have an impact on most everyone he comes across.
Jan Boyington, the community relations director at Clearfield High School who has known him for years, said it’s because he’s always so pleasant and happy despite his struggles with cerebral palsy.
“He has become the school mascot, so to speak, and now he’s just a part of the school,” Boyington said.
When asked why he remains so cheerful despite his challenges in life, Weston confidently replies, “I’m happy because I try to be kind. I know I am a child of God, and I know where I’m going.”
When Weston was born, the doctor told his mom that he would probably never be able to walk.
That remains one of his biggest challenges, as one of the symptoms of cerebral palsy is that the muscles and joints are tighter than normal without the ability to stretch, making walking extremely difficult.
Weston wears gloves on his hands to protect them from his frequent falls. He said it’s embarrassing.
“It’s hard, but I know I just have to get back up,” he said.
He proved the doctor wrong by learning to walk by age 9. He endured an operation on his legs that involved cutting the bone above the knee on both legs in an attempt to turn the legs out, so he wouldn’t trip over himself as much.
The best advice the doctor gave Joelyn Weston was to make him work for everything he wanted.
“That was really hard for me, but he’s always had to work for everything, and he has overcome his challenges because of his determination,” she said.
Jeffrey Weston’s determination has helped him succeed in life.
When he graduated from high school, his peers gave him a standing ovation, something that completely shocked Weston.
“He’s just not used to people doing that,” said his mother.
He received the second standing ovation of his life just recently when he was inducted into Clearfield High School’s alumni hall of fame.
He has clearly touched the lives of those who have come into contact with him, including senior Bradley McCrindle, who has known Weston for three years.
“He’s so funny.Every day I say hi to him and ask how he is doing,” McCrindle said.
Recently McCrindle saw Weston perform in a special-needs play and admits to getting emotional.
“Seeing Jeff do Elvis in the play made me smile and gave me extra encouragement when I do theater,” McCrindle said.
Weston may struggle with walking and talking, but to his mom and those around him, he’s more normal than not. As his mother put it:
“You just have to stop and listen with your heart more than anything to understand what he is saying.”