Father tears up about child's R.I.S.E graduation - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Father becomes emotional after son graduates from UA's RISE program

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Jerry Lee holds his son Jonathan, who graduated from R.I.S.E Development School in Tuscaloosa Thursday. (abc3340.com) Jerry Lee holds his son Jonathan, who graduated from R.I.S.E Development School in Tuscaloosa Thursday. (abc3340.com)
TUSCALOOSA - AL -

Thursday night is a very special one for a Tuscaloosa family whose child is graduating from the RISE developmental school started by former Alabama Coach Gene Stallings.

Jerry Lee and his family lived in Huntsville when their son Jonathon was born with Down Syndrome. Lee says he was told that his child would be placed in a room with infants even though Jonathon was a toddler.

Lee refused and heard about the R.I.S.E. school.  But, it was a 2 1/2 hour drive from Huntsville.

But, Lee packed the family up and moved to Tuscaloosa so his son could attend.  However, Lee commuted to his job in Huntsville daily.

Now, Jonathon is among 18 other students graduating from the University of Alabama's RISE program Thursday evening at 6pm.

Jonathan Lee performing at the University of Alabama's RISE School in Tuscaloosa, Thursday, July 25, 2013. (abc3340.com)

Dad says every mile he's had to drive has been worth it.  "Just hearing him say dad, hearing him say mom.  And everyday when I get home and the garage door goes up and he comes running out with his arms up high saying Dad, it takes it al away," said Lee.

The family plans to move to Madison County after Thursday night's graduation.

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