WATCHMAN ON THE WALL
by Sharyn Kopf — Marketing
January 11, 2010
Aaron Welty ’05 takes his job very seriously. He believes God has placed him in such a place for such a time as this. “The easiest way to describe my journey to D.C.,” he said, “is that God wants me here to be a watchman on the wall.”
For Aaron, the journey started when he was only 13 years old and first considered the possibility of a career in the nation’s capital. After graduating from Cedarville, he worked briefly for The Heritage Foundation — a conservative think tank promoting public policy research and analysis based on free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and strong national defense. There, he said, he learned “from some of the greatest minds in politics.”
He then went to work for Representative Thaddeus McCotter, who serves as the representative for Aaron’s home district in Michigan. While he considers his job as legislative assistant one of the toughest things he’s ever done, Aaron appreciates the opportunities it has provided.
“It’s good to be working for the home team,” Aaron said. “I’ve met some of my favorite authors, like Joel Rosenberg and Matthew Spalding, as well as former President George W. Bush. And I’ve learned from some of the best conservative minds around.”
One thing Aaron appreciates learning at Cedarville was that life is both difficult and exhausting, a lesson he’s reminded of time and time again in his job.
“A life like this isn’t what we would want — or guess we’d be given — but it’s what I’ve been handed, and I work hard to thrive in what I do. You learn a lot about what you’re made of in this line of work.”
Aaron credits his years at Cedarville for much of his success. With his parents pushing him this direction, as well as the opportunity to study prelaw (though he eventually majored in public administration), the University was at the top of his list. But what gave Cedarville the edge was the school’s efforts to make sure Aaron could handle the campus and its terrain as a person with physical difficulties.
“What I most appreciate,” he said, “was the faith people put in me to do things; the ability they had to look past my physical challenges and let me get involved, even if it seemed impossible.”
Having cerebral palsy makes it especially hard for Aaron to walk long distances. But this struggle led to a rather ingenious contraption: an experimental and battery-powered scooter built specially for Aaron by his father, Keith Welty.
When Aaron first arrived at Cedarville in 2001, he made his way around campus on a larger-than-life tricycle. But after he flipped that while avoiding a collision with a motorcycle, his dad expressed a wish to build his son an electric vehicle that would do a better job of protecting Aaron. So, during Easter weekend 2004, the two drew up initial designs for the FENX, a name he chose as a unique way to spell “Phoenix.” Keith unveiled a finished product for Aaron the following Thanksgiving.
Today, the latest version of the FENX — 4.1 — helps Aaron maneuver around Washington, D.C. And it’s doing more than that. This past summer/fall, NBC Nightly News filmed a segment on Aaron and his vehicle after learning about him from a BBC film crew that met Aaron as he was driving home from church one evening. Aaron commented in his blog that he’s “eager to see what sort of doors and adventures the Lord brings as a result of this — His fingerprints have been all over it from the beginning.”