Deacon in Motion


Danny Cope maneuvers his motorized wheelchair with the skill of a parking attendant. He can’t move his arms or fingers very well, but he prods the control stick mounted on his armrest with his fist. Danny’s wheelchair has seen a lot of action. As a deacon in the Oakridge Ward in the El Dorado California Stake, he uses it to fulfill his Aaronic Priesthood duties.

The wheelchair takes him to collect fast offerings and to quorum and Scout activities. His dad even made a special sacrament tray attachment so Danny can pass the sacrament with the other deacons. Since he isn’t able to lift the tray himself, the ward member nearest to the aisle helps him. Cerebral palsy might limit him physically, but mentally and spiritually he keeps moving.

Until last year, Danny had a hard time communicating. Even those close to him had a hard time understanding his speech. But now Danny talks with his eyes—well, with a laser that’s attached to his glasses. Using the laser, Danny can activate keys on a small, talking computer. Now that he’s able to communicate more easily, collecting fast offerings becomes as easy as pushing a button.

“Hello. I’m from the Church. Do you have any fast offerings today?” When the envelope is returned to him, Danny pushes another button, and the electronic voice says, “Thank you!” He’s also used his new voice to give talks and bear his testimony.

You can also see Danny’s testimony in his willingness to serve and in his love for nature and sacred music. Lately, Danny’s love for nature has translated itself into the desire to paint. He holds a paintbrush with his teeth to create acrylic or watercolor paintings. The process is slow, detailed, and requires a lot of patience.

“You should see his paintings,” says fellow deacon Jacob Ricks. “They are awesome!” Danny gets a lot of support from his deacons quorum.

As much as Danny seems to be enjoying life, his parents worry about him. They wonder if his easy, joyful smile really means he’s happy. His mom finally asked him: “Danny, are you having a good life?”

Her heart stopped for a moment when the first word to appear on his computer screen was “No.” Then Danny typed the rest of the sentence: “I’m having a great life!”

[photos] Photography by Jim Cope

[photos] Danny Cope just keeps on moving—physically and spiritually. He has cerebral palsy, but he finds creative ways to do things, like painting pictures (above and bottom right).

[photos] Danny also finds ways to serve and to fulfill his calling as a deacon. He passes the sacrament and collects fast offerings in his wheelchair (bottom left and above.)

Artel Ricks is a member of the Oakridge Ward, El Dorado California Stake.