Saturday, February 26, 2011

Aaron Fotheringham - hero for our times

I recently came across the story of Aaron Fotheringham and knew I had to share it. Stories of courage and overcoming the odds are few and far between in this world where many of us chose to let life pass us by just because it's so difficult to grab it by the horns. Aaron's story is one of those few stories.

Aaron was born with Spina Bifida, a congenital disease of the spinal cord which prevents him from moving his legs. The third of six children (all adopted), he grew up doing most things which his peers were doing..... on crutches. But riding a BMX like his older brother and doing tricks in the park appeared to be beyond him. Until one day, he rolled his wheelchair onto the ramp and started doing them himself. The first time he fell, but by the time he finished for the day, he was hooked. And he has never looked back. He was provided a special wheelchair (with shock absorbers on all 4 wheels to cushion his landing) and he began practicing his stunts for 30-35 hours a week - first into a foam pit and once they were perfected onto the ramp. He entered into age-group BMX competitions and began winning, becoming in the process the world's first ever extreme wheelchair athlete. His term for it is extreme sitting!

His life changed when he became the first person in the world to perform the wheelchair backflip and posted it on Youtube. After the video went viral, he began to receive invitations to tour, performing and speaking and also to help other children with special needs. He has now expanded his stunt repertoire to include the double back-flip and a 180-degree 'aerial' and is working on combining the backflip and the aerial into the 'flair'.

People like Aaron are one-in-a-million. But their example is a clarion call to all of us who live life with not even an iota of the difficulties they go through. Will we chose to overcome our circumstances? Or will we remain their victim - struggling through life instead of soaring.

This is a link to his website and here are the videos that made him famous.

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