Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Amazing Wheelchair Tricks of Aaron Fotheringham (my cousin!)

My 16-year-old cousin Aaron Fotheringham has finally found his niche in life--in a skate park, doing wild and crazy (not to mention dangerous) stunts. This is not unusual for a teenager, but Aaron’s situation is a little different. Born with spina bifida, he is paralyzed from the waist down, and confined to a wheelchair. For the last four years, he has been going to the concrete skate parks and trying all the tricks he can think of--he practices with skateboarders and dirt-bikers. He loves it, and it shows in his attitude toward life.

In July 2006, Aaron made “wheelchair history” by landing the first airborne backflip in a wheelchair. This may even be Guinness Book of World Records stuff! This type of wheelchair-skateboarding (Aaron calls it “hard-core sitting”) is starting to catch on, and, who knows, it may even become an event in the Para-Olympics.

Aaron’s crazy tricks have been featured in many places--he's been on "tour" in Germany, attended exhibitions in Florida, and been invited (but had to turn down) a trip to Asia. The wheelchair company Colours Wheelchair (one of Aaron's earliest sponsors) has a short video of Aaron, including his amazing backflip. (Click on Aaron Fotheringham in the "what's hot" section of the homepage.)

On February 7, 2008, he was on SportsCenter on ESPN. You can watch the feature here. They did an excellent job in capturing the essence of Aaron. Watch out, though. You might find yourself a bit damp-eyed by the end. That's just how awesome Aaron and his family are!

(If you want to read a little more about Aaron, I wrote about him here two summers ago, right after we found out that our baby son also has spina bifida.)

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