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Monday, February 12, 2007

Kid Who Only Happens to Be in a Wheelchair of the Day.

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Someday, young Citizen Fotheringham may overcome his inability to walk with the help of science. He has already transcended it.

From Ebility.com: Historic wheelchair backflip

Aaron Fotheringham is one of a small, but growing group of elite wheelchair athletes who have taken up the challenge of wheelchair skateboarding. He recently became the first known person ever to do a backflip somersault in a wheelchair.

Wheelchair skateboarders do with their wheelchairs, what other athletes do with their skateboards. They make spectacular leaps and jumps from amazing heights and try not to injure themselves in the process.

NewDisability.Com (ND) caught up with Aaron and got to know him better.

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ND: Hi Aaron. Let's start by getting to know more about you. How old are you and where are you from?

Aaron: I am 14 years young and I am from Las Vegas, Nevada.

ND: How long have you been in a wheelchair?

Aaron: I got my first wheelchair when I was 3. But until I was 8 I mostly used crutches. Sometime in my 8th year I needed a second hip surgery that didn't really work. Then after a third surgery I started using the wheelchair full time.

ND: You are obviously very good at what you do. How long have you been skateboarding? How old were you when you started?

Aaron: I've been 'Hard Core Sitting' for 6 years, so I was 8 years old when I started.

ND: What is Hard Core Sitting?

Aaron: That is a term I created for extreme wheelchair sports. It includes wheelchair skateboarding.

Damn right. Hard Core Sitting indeed.

ND: Does wheelchair skateboarding require a lot of practice?

Aaron: Yes! I have to keep practicing or I will loose some skills. But I love doing it so much I don't think of it as practice, I think of it as a fun way to live my life.

ND: How did you get started? What was the beginning?

Aaron: I used to go to the park and watch my brother do BMX tricks. One day he said I should try dropping in. I was scared but tried, and from then on I was hooked.

ND: How did you learn to do it? Do you have a teacher, a coach or a manager?

Aaron: No, I just thought of new tricks. I also get suggestions from bikers and skaters. To me it is more like biking than skating, and I get most of my ideas from what the bikers can do. But I do some board-like stuff too. It's actually kind of fun to do a little of both, and I can hang with the boarders or the bikers.

ND: How do you get motivated to go out and do this everyday? What drives you?

Aaron: I love doing it, I don't really need to be motivated. But I do use my music. I put on my favorite song and that just gets me pumped.

ND: What advice would you give to others who want to try skateboarding? What are the most important things you learned?


ND: Do you need any special equipment? What makes the equipment special?

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Aaron: Yes, I highly recommend a wheelchair with suspension. Like the Boing from Colours. I also recommend a grinding bar to protect your shocks while grinding. I also wear gloves, elbow pads, and a helmet, of course.

How freakin' cool is this kid?

ND: Why is suspension important? And what is a grinding bar?

Aaron: The suspension takes most of the shock out of the landing. It really softens the ride. It also helps with my launches and hops. But without the suspension, the impact would be just too painful. So, the suspension protects me and the grinding bar protects the suspension from the extreme abuse that I give it.

ND: Ok, now tell us about that backflip, Aaron, that is amazing! How many times did you jump into cushions before taking the cushions away?

Aaron: Oh wow! That's a hard one, probably around 50 or 60 times, because I didn't want to land on my head.

ND: Was the first jump without cushions successful?

Aaron: Almost, but my momentum threw me on my back. It took about 15 more times before I landed it squarely. But it doesn't matter because I still can't walk. Just kidding I'm doing fine.

ND: It must have been a great feeling the first time it worked! Tell us what you felt.

Aaron: I felt like I accomplished what I had wanted to when I started riding.

Amen to that.

ND: How many times have you backflipped? Have they all been successful? Did you ever land on your head?

Aaron: I flipped about 20 to 25 times successfully. I didn't really ever land on my head but a couple times I pulled off the lip too early and knocked myself out.

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ND: Are you really the first person that has ever successfully completed a backflip in a wheelchair?

Aaron: I have reason to believe I am, (Is it just me or is this young gentleman more articulate and wise than John Edwards and Michael J.Fox combined? - F.G.) because others have tried a flip but haven't gotten the full rotation even in the foam pit. Let alone on the Rezi. No one has come forward to say they have done it too.

ND: What is a Rezi?

Aaron: Once a skateboarder masters the full rotation into cushions, the next step is a Rezi which is a plastic sheet over the cushions. It is hard, but not as hard as concrete. The next step after the Rezi is to do the jump onto a normal concrete ramp.

ND: I have seen a long video posted on the Colours Wheelchair home page where you are taking some very nasty falls. Have you hurt yourself skateboarding?

Aaron: I did break my elbow once, but just bumps and bruises other than that. I wear a full face helmet because I have seen other kids get hurt bad. I saw a kid loose all his front teeth, I saw another kid crack his skull and nearly lose an eye in a fall.

ND: What are your dreams or plans for the future? Is there something you would like to accomplish as a skateboarder that you have not done yet?

Aaron: Yes, a backflip-180 also known as a Flair.

Amen to that, Brother!

ND: Who is your hero?

Aaron: You mean heroes. My heroes are Mike and John Box (from Colours Wheelchairs). They are Super Heroes. They have been enthusiastic and supportive for years.

ND: Thanks a lot for the time. I wish you a lot of success with your skateboarding. I am sure we are going to be hearing a lot more about you in the future.

Video of Aaron skateboarding (and other cool wheelchair sports videos)

Teach your boys to have what Aaron has and pray they will keep it their entire lives.

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.


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