NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — An incoming Heartland Community College (HCC) student is receiving praise from around the world after a video of him celebrating his acceptance letter went viral Saturday.
The video shows Kurt Kinley jumping for joy after learning he was accepted into Heartland Community College’s Heartland Academy for Learning Opportunities (HALO) Program. The video was posted by his brother, Glenn Kinley, on Twitter and has been viewed more than 200,000 times.
“I threw it on Twitter just because I wanted to say how proud of him I was, I just thought it was a pretty cool moment, and it really started blowing up,” said his brother Drew.
The video was recorded by Kurt’s mother, Michele Kinley, who said they were not sure if he was accepted or not at the time.
“We were very excited for him, and obviously his emotion in the video showed how excited he was,” Michele said.
Kurt was accepted into the HALO program, which offers a higher education experience for students ages 18 – 28 with intellectual or developmental disabilities and other learning challenges.
“The HALO program really teaches our students how to be independent self-advocates. They learn a lot about just being a more independent person in their community,” said Ashley Rogucki, program facilitator for HALO.
HCC’s Assistant Director for Student Access and Accommodation Services Kori Folkerts said the video was uplifting.
“It is a great video to watch. In fact, I have been sent it out to all of my family just so that they can see what it is that our students get to experience,” Folkerts said. “That they get to experience that acceptance letter, and that everything gets to tie into place with being part of that college experience.”
Michele hopes the video helps spread the message that there are local opportunities for those with special needs.
“That’s our hope with this going viral, that people know that there are great opportunities in Bloomington-Normal and that everybody can take part in that,” Michele said.
More information on the HALO program is available on HCC’s website.