Courage, tenacity, ambition, hope. These are principles and qualities that most people tend to hold in high regard, but are sometimes in short supply. Even so, everyone has the ability to summon and apply them, and sometimes having a shining example of the application of them can give the rest of us hope. This is especially so when the person setting the example is an Extreme Wheelchair Athlete.


This story is about just such a remarkable individual, who has overcome startling odds and disabilities to develop himself towards the attainment of his highest potential. His name is “Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham, and readers of his story will doubtless find great inspiration in his efforts, insights that may help individuals to find the strength to conquer their own personal shortcomings and difficult circumstances.

Tough Beginnings

Aaron J. Fotheringham came into the world on the 8th of November, 1991. He was born in gambling mecca of Las Vegas, and at birth was diagnosed with the medical condition known as spina bifida. He was given up for adoption at an early age and was later adopted by Steve and Kaylene Fotheringham, who had also adopted five other children.


Growing up with Spina bifida was anything but easy for Aaron. Spina bifida comes from Latin words that translate to ‘split spine.’ It is so described this way because the spinal columns of affected individuals do not fully develop and close prior to birth. Spina bifida generally appears in three separate forms. Spina bifida occulta, meningocele, and myelomeningocele. Each different kind of spina bifida has its own set of symptoms, with occulta being the least damaging and myelomeningocele the most. With the latter type, portions of the spinal nerves as well as the spinal cord itself protrude through a gap in the spinal wall, and this situation often results in serious nerve damage and partial paralysis.

In Aaron’s case, his spina bifida rendered his legs useless at an early age. He spent the early years using crutches to get himself from place to place. Around the age of 8, he was given a wheelchair in order to improve his mobility. And this is when the legend of “Wheelz” begins.

His adopted parents Steve and Kaylene believed in providing a stimulating and loving environment for all of their adopted children, and even though Aaron was in a wheelchair this principle extended to him as well. They supported him as any good parents would, but at the same time encouraged him to be independent and reach for his goals as any other child would.

His older siblings felt the same way, and from a young age made a point of including him in all of the activities they enjoyed. Aaron’s older brothers were into extreme sports, often visiting local skate parks. Aaron would tag along and it was here where Wheelz got his first taste of the sport that would ultimately take him around the world.

The Skate Park

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