The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

June 19, 2013

Called 'Next Stephen Hawking,' teen is perfect on math exam

Physically challenged freshman visits classroom for first time to celebrate exam results

(Continued)

LEWISTON, N.Y. —

Three other students received perfect scores on the exam and will be honored by the school in the fall.

As for his other classes, Matthew's still in the process of taking exams in both English Language Arts and social studies, though his mother isn't anticipating anymore 100s. Next year brings his toughest challenge when regents science works its way into his home. His mother said she was concerned the coursework, complete with a number of laboratory requirements, would overload him this year, so she held off.

Outside the classroom, Matthew is a considerable speed freak. He's a sports fanatic who enjoys watching as much NASCAR racing as possible. His wheelchair comes with a specially designed computer, which he uses to tap into some of the online features NASCAR television broadcasts provide.

He's also a fan of hockey and is cheering for the Chicago Blackhawks and Buffalo-born Patrick Kane in this year's Stanley Cup Final.

The computer, which is also what he uses to Skype with his class, has given him the opportunity to be his own person more so than any other component in his life.

"It gives him an opportunity to do things for himself," Cathy Minderler said. "Using the computer, he's been able to adapt well. And he uses it for everything."

Matthew's illness has taken its toll on everyone in the Minderler family. After the diagnosis and witnessing the destruction of his child's muscles, Matthew's father left the family.

His mother remained by his side, together with Matthew's older brother, Steven, 19, who is about to begin classes at the University at Buffalo in August. She admits it's a commitment which requires numerous sacrifices some people simply aren't comfortable making. But then she looks at her son, she said, and all of the negativity disappears.

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