Black History Month: Man doesn’t let disability stop him from spreading smiles

LEXINGTON, Tenn. — Each week in February WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News will spotlight a different West Tennessean making a difference in their community.

In partnership with the Tennessee Education Lottery, this week we travel to Lexington to meet Eldridge David Deberry.

“Faith, family and friends are key to the whole thing,” Deberry said.

Deberry has been a big part of the Lexington community since he moved there in 1969 as a child. “Started out volunteering at schools. Back in 1995, I volunteered coaching and I was also on the PTO, and same at the high school. I was part of the friends of LHS at the high school.”

But, in 2008, he was diagnosed with a rare spinal disease.

“Called neurosarcoidosis, it messes my spine up, and that’s why I use a walker now,” Deberry said.

The bad news didn’t stop there. “In 2013, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, so I’m a six-year survivor of that,” Deberry said.

But he isn’t letting any of this hold him back.

“Every Wednesday, 9:15-10:05, I’m a reading coach there [at Caywood Elementary School],” Deberry said.

Deberry has had such an impact on the Lexington community, he had his very own bench at Caywood Elementary, aptly named the “Buddy Bench,” because, as the plaque says, he’s a friend and buddy to young and old. 

If Deberry is having a rough day, he sits in his favorite chair, looks out the window and listens to a recording from one of his football games.

The announcer is heard saying “he may go all the way… to the 45… to the 35… touchdown, Tigers!”

Deberry says as long as he has his health, he’ll be giving back to the community that has given him so much.

Categories: Local News, News