Empower Piper’s journey toward independence

Piper Banning

By Mike Weland

Piper Banning was resuscitated at birth and has overcome hardships that would bow the lesser spirit to become a “typical” 16-year-old few would imagine has faced and overcome such odds.

Functionally blind, she and her parents, Jesse and Katie Banning, were advised she should go to the Idaho School for the Blind and Deaf in Gooding, but Piper turned down such a notion without a moment’s hesitation, staying loyal to the Bonners Ferry schools she grew up in.

“I was born a Badger, I will stay a Badger,” she said. And while she has to work harder than most, she refuses to stay on the sidelines, running cross country and stirring Badger spirit as a cheerleader. In addition to her school work, Piper is active in her church and covers Badger sports for 9B.News.

While others her age are taking drivers ed and earning their first drivers licenses, Piper knows she’ll never drive the open road, but she wants to be mobile, to be free of having to burden others to take her on those short jaunts to the Moyie Store or over to friends homes to visit.

Her dad is an avid golfer and Piper his avid caddy, primarily for the sense of liberation she enjoys while driving the golf cart over hill and dale, from green to shining green. Having one of her own at home as a runabout would be far more than safe transportation, it would be one more step toward independence, a means around some of the many obstacles she faces daily.

Having one made possible by the kindness and generosity of the community she loves will make it all the more special.

When Jesse told me of Piper’s dream, I volunteered that the community would likely be amenable to helping him make her dream come true sooner rather than later and in true guy fashion, he demurred, insisting it was his responsibility.

“Everyone knows that,” I reminded him, “but think how many would love to read about this remarkable young woman and appreciate the privilege of helping her by helping you.”

He gave a reluctant okay. and those who would like the privilege of helping Piper are free to give as much or as little as they would like via the Empower Piper’s Journey Toward Independence campaign on GoFundMe or mail donations payable to Katie Banning to Piper Banning, c/o Mike Weland, 6619 Kaniksu St., Bonners Ferry, ID 83845.