The audience cheered, and some even teared up Friday, when a teenager paralyzed from the waist down stood up with a walker and leg braces and made his way to the stage to get his high school diploma.
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Jake Thibeault, 18, made headlines nine months ago when an injury during a hockey game left him with two broken vertebrae, partial paralysis, and a harrowing journey to try and heal.
The teen, who has been in therapy ever since, amazingly made his way to graduation Friday to achieve his goal of personally walking up to receive his diploma from Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts.
Footage shows Jake wheeling his chair toward the stage before standing up with leg braces and a walker to move 30 steps — acts that sparked cheers and tears among the audience, WCVB-TV reported.
Jake’s father, Mike Thiebault, was among those enamored by the scene.
“Just an overwhelming feeling of being proud for Jake,” Mike Thiebault said. “Nevermore honored to be his father.”
Here’s a full view of the powerful moment:
A promise made and kept as @MiltonAcad_puck player Jake Thibeault walks to accept his diploma today in front of classmates and teammates just nine months after a devastating on ice injury. pic.twitter.com/jmSr4GGiSS
— Bulldog Hockey U18 (@crobahh_1) June 10, 2022
Jake was one of the top high school hockey players in New England before his tragic accident, CBS News reported.
His father, Mike Thiebault, said last September after the accident that he believed his son would overcome the difficulties.
“He’s a special kid. Nobody deserves what he’s going through,” he said at the time. “But maybe God chose him because he’s going to do it. He’s a kid that can handle it.”
And Jake, too, has been committed that he will one day walk again, making the momentous graduation event that much more special.
“I told my parents I have an order. I’m gonna walk, then run, then skate, and I may skip run and try to skate first,” he told The Patriot Ledger in February. “But it truly goes back to just the no-quit, and I’m refusing to lose. And that stuck with me to this day, and it will stick with me until I’m on my feet.”
Keep praying for Jake and his family as he continues on the path to recovery. He will be heading to Babson College in the fall — and plans to continue his quest to walk.
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