Who knew watching a young man accept his college diploma at his graduation could reduce a complete stranger to tears, but what University of Portland graduate, Sam Bridgman achieved was remarkable.
He stood up from his wheelchair and walked to the stage even though he’s battled Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), a rare degenerative neuromuscular disorder that has, in recent years, left him reliant on a motorized wheelchair.
See video afret the cut...
Bridgman, 21, whose life motto is “Impossible is nothing” was determined to walk on his own two feet during the ceremony.
Watch the video here:
The Huffington Post reports:
According to a 2012 report in the Oregonian, Bridgman has been working regularly with the university’s athletic trainers to keep his legs active.
“‘Cause I don’t get to walk anymore, it gives me the ability to feel like I’m walking,” Bridgman said of the exercises at the time.
On May 5, the years of continued effort paid off. Flanked and aided by two trainers, Bridgman — a tireless advocate for FA awareness and research — stood up from his wheelchair and walked to and across the stage, accepting his diploma with a huge smile stretched across his face.
Beloved and deeply respected by his peers, the young man and his show of tremendous courage was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation.
“Truly the most inspirational guy I have ever met! Congratulations Sam!” one University of Portland alum wrote on Facebook Monday.