It’s hard to go two minutes without hearing greetings such as “Beau money!” and “Yo Beau!” accompanied by handshakes, high fives and fist bumps when you’re walking within earshot of Kyler “Beau” Mathis at McCracken County High School.
Beau is something of a town legend in Paducah, all because of a tragic accident that happened while he was taking part in a common activity. Rewind seven years, five brain surgeries, 25 days in a coma and one accidentally discharged .22-caliber bullet, and you have Beau Mathis, 10, shooting targets in his backyard.
Now Beau is a senior in high school, the “morale manager” of the football and baseball teams and a social butterfly. The disabilities that resulted from his accident include short-term memory loss, vision problems and some physical impairments — most noticeably, an immobile left arm and a weakened left leg. These disabilities don’t seem to slow him down.
Even before he could talk, Beau was pushing himself. According to his mother, Anne Wallace, Beau was an early walker. Now, even with a limp, he’s almost never late to class and has a near- perfect attendance record, only occasionally missing school for doctors' appointments.
Surrounding Beau is a strong and supportive community. “They’re very protective of Beau,” his mother says. When McCracken County High School took in two other high schools four years ago, there were a large number of people around Beau who didn’t know his story. But there also were many who knew him before his accident.
Regardless of whether they know his whole story, Beau always manages to brighten up peoples' day, either with a joke, a flirtatious comment or a simple ear-to-ear smile.