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Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham
Student Disability Month Kick Off
Date: Friday, Sept. 28th 2012
Location: Preston Center Multi Purpose Room
Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham is a 20 year-old wheelchair moto-cross athlete from Las Vegas, Nevada. Aaron was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect of the spinal cord, which resulted in him having no usage of his legs. He is the third of six children, all adopted.
Aaron never let anything stop him. Even as a baby and small child, he did anything anyone else his age could do; he just had to figure out how to make it work for him. He rolled over, sat up, and even crawled (on hands and belly, no leg action) pretty much on schedule. Within days of receiving his first "walker" he was off and running. Next came crutches, which he mastered quickly. He would put on a "Superman" cape and blast down the hall on crutches believing, as any other 4 year old, that he could fly.
Aaron started riding at skate parks at the age of 8 when his older brother Brian said he should drop in a quarter pipe. He had been going to the park with Brian and their dad for weeks, but Aaron would just watch from behind the fence. The first time was scary, and he fell, but he was never one to give up just because it wasn't easy. So he tried again. From then on he was hooked.
He has won a few BMX free style competitions, including the 2005 Vegas AmJam BMX finals, but for Aaron that is secondary to the joy of riding and hanging out with friends at the skate parks.
Over the last six years Aaron has challenged himself to try progressively more difficult tricks; carving, grinding, power-sliding, hand planting, and spinning are just a few of his accomplishments. In 2005, he perfected a mid air 180-degree turn. Then on July 13th, 2006, he landed the first wheelchair back flip. Four years later, at a camp in Woodward, he landed the first ever double back flip (August 26, 2010). Since then, he has gone on to perform it live while touring with the Nitro Circus. As if this is not enough, on February 9th, 2011, he landed his very first front flip in New Zealand.
After posting that "first ever back flip" on the Internet, life has changed for Aaron; he has had the opportunity to travel within the US, as well as internationally, performing and speaking in front of many. He has attended summer camps for disabled children as a coach/mentor. He has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and sports television. He receives and responds to e-mails from all over the world.
Aaron enjoys showing young kids with disabilities that a wheelchair can be a toy, not a restriction. He loves helping younger children learn how to handle their chairs in new and different ways and teaching them a trick or two.
Someday he hopes to design "the most wicked" chair in the world.
Aaron has a passion for what he does, not only is it a lot of fun, but he wants to change the world's perception of people in wheelchairs, as well as helping everyone see his/her own challenges in a new way. Aaron's appeal is universal. You certainly do not have to be disabled to be inspired by what he is able to do.