Eagles magazine highlights QCHS student

Gabe DaCosta was recognized through his affiliation with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he is an ambassador.
Posted on 11/05/2020
Gabe DaCosta, sitting in his wheelchair, shares a laugh with football coaches George Banas, right, and Chris Lemuell. By Gary Weckselblatt

Gabe DaCosta, one of the most popular students at Quakertown Community High School, is highlighted in the November 1st Eagles Gameday Magazine.

The profile, on Page 16, explains how Gabe developed cerebral palsy from his premature birth and now spends most of his time in a wheelchair. It also reveals details of his charming personality, including his “expressive eyes and rumbling laugh.”

The recognition from the Eagles came to Gabe as he is an ambassador for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where he receives his medical care. As an ambassador, Gabe represents the thousands of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy and has his story shared to show why it’s worth supporting institutions like CHOP, which strives to create breakthroughs for young people like Gabe.

“I’m just so proud of my son,” said Anthony DaCosta, Gabe’s dad. “As a parent, when your child gets recognized, there’s a satisfaction for his accomplishment.”

Though it’s difficult for Gabe to communicate, students and faculty at QCHS gravitate to him for his warm personality and infectious smile. “Everytime I see him he’s always ready for the high five,” Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner said. “Gabe’s spirit, day in and day out, is a true highlight for our students.”

Mr. DaCosta, boys basketball coach at QCHS, said that as a parent he was apprehensive when Gabe began high school because of his son’s physical challenges. Those fears quickly dissipated as “people took to him. It gave us peace of mind. It was tremendous to see him going through high school.”

As the magazine profile points out, “While Gabriel may not be able to speak, his expressive eyes and rumbling laugh, as well as his quick wit with his communication device, keep us all informed as to his wants, needs and desires. Gabriel has far exceeded initial expectations. While he uses a wheelchair to get around and an iPad to communicate, he doesn’t miss much. He went to his senior prom and walked across the stage at his graduation using a special walker. Gabriel is sure to charm you with his smile and knowledge of football and basketball.”

Indeed, Gabe graduated with the Class of 2019. He currently is part of the district’s ASPIRE program. ASPIRE stands for Acquiring Skills Professionalism, Independence and Responsibility for Education/Employment. It’s for students ages 18 to 21, who may have a mental or physical challenge that calls for more schooling to help them prepare to navigate the world after high school.

“Quakertown and CHOP have been very supportive and my wife and I are very appreciative,” Mr. DaCosta said. “It’s brought warmth to our heart.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].
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