The X games took the world of extreme sports by storm several years ago with amazing athletics feats like BMX racing, extreme snowboarding and motorcycle jumping. Today there is a new kind of extreme sport making its mark on athletics: extreme wheelchair sports! Nitro Circus is an extreme sports show featuring a unique extreme act featuring back flips, lunging off ramps, and dangerous stunts all from the seat of the performer’s wheelchair.
Meet Aaron Fotheringham, also known as “Wheelz” during his Nitro Circus performance. Aaron was born with Spina Bifida and started experimented with extreme wheelchair sports at a very young age, finding his love for flipping into the air and leaving his fear at the door at skate parks in his local community. The first stunt he mastered was the wheelchair backflip, performed by soaring down a gigantic ramp and flipping not only himself but his chair along with him in the air and sticking a perfect landing.
When not garnering applause as a performer, Aaron is making a difference in the lives of children with disabilities during live events in which the motto he passes on to his young followers is “push the limits” and never give up. Aaron proves during his performances and his daily life that if you fall hard, you simply get back up and try it again. It’s this same spirit that Aaron brings to his dedication to invent and perfect new wheelchair stunts.
While some people use language with negative connotations around the word “wheelchair” like “bound to” or “confined to” a wheelchair, Aaron sees his chair as a tool that lets him create and earn a living. He explains his love for extreme wheelchair stunts on his website saying, “I have wheels stuck to my butt. How can that not be fun!”
Aaron’s love for his wheels, extreme athletics, and inspiring outlook about disability was featured recently on the CBS Evening News. In fact, one little boy who Aaron has inspired says the biggest lessons he learned from him was “to never give up.”
He’s not only an entertainer, but he is spreading a positive message about disability and showing that you can turn a challenge into something amazing; that you don’t have to view limited mobility in a negative light. Challenging situations have the potential to become great experiences if we view them from a positive angle and that is a lesson that everyone can relate to.
What do you think about extreme wheelchair athletics? How can children benefit from differently-abled role models like Fotheringham? Share your opinion in the comments!
To learn more about Aaron Fotheringham, visit www.aaronfotheringham.com.