Injured student joins national SkillsUSA team

Injured student joins national SkillsUSA team

Monday, July 15, 2013

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College Director of Communications
417.447.2655 publicinfo@otc.edu
Steve Koehler
Coordinator of media relations (417) 447-2666 koehlers@otc.edu

For Dillon Welch, representing Ozarks Technical Community College in the national SkillsUSA competition in Kansas City was too important of an event to miss.

So even when he sustained a serious leg injury in a motorcycle accident about two weeks before the competition, Dillon made it to the event ó in a wheelchair.

"They put in the work like I did. I didn't want to ruin it for my teammates. It was the least I could do," said the 20-year-old studying construction management at OTC.

Dillon broke both lower bones in his left leg, broke his ankle, dislocated his foot and tore all the tendons in his left when he jumped from his motorcycle at 50 mph as the machine started to fall back on him while he was trying to ride on just the back wheel.

A total of 30 pins were implanted in his leg and he will not be able to walk for three months.

"I thought about the skills competition while I was in the hospital. I wanted the team to find someone else but the team didnít want to," he said.

Dillon assisted his teammates as best he could, moving around the indoor construction site as the team built a small version of a house that required everything from framing to masonry work to plumbing.

The Cassville High School graduate did what he could while seated in a wheelchair. With his tool belt strapped to the back of his wheelchair, Dillon did some framing, insulation, caulking and cleanup.

"It was a tight area. There were a lot of obstacles and I didn't practice ahead of time working from a wheelchair," he said.

The team finished 12th in the nation, a good finish considering the situation.

"I am very proud of all of SkillsUSA national competitors. Many of them overcame health issues and challenges to compete this year," said Cynthia Phillips, SkillsUSA lead advisor at OTC.

"Dillon Welch is an excellent example of leadership and that level of dedication. His team was thrilled to compete and look after Dillon so they could represent OTC in an exemplary manner. They are all champions in my book."