Aaron Fotheringham: Extreme Sitter, and Mentor
Ever since Aaron Fotheringham became the first person on record to do a backflip in a wheelchair, he has recieved quite a lot of media attention. Fotheringham’s story is an exception to some of the things that I ranted about last night. His story is one that journalists are able to tell without patronizing him. His life is not a sob story, nor is his successful backflip considered the ultimate triumph over adversity. They put him on the same level as other skaters, while highlighting just why his contributions to the sport are unique.
Second, and even better, since his pioneering backflip two years ago, he has become a mentor to young children in wheelchairs. He is not a superhero, though his little friend in this story, Zachary, clearly looks up to him a great deal, and his ability to connect with Zachary clearly means the world to Zachary’s mom. This is what I meant when I wrote about how wheelchair athletes can provide direction and mentorship toward young people in chairs that are looking for something that will give them thrills and excitement, and something to provide them a little variety and challenge as well.