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Wheelchair athlete - Aaron Fotheringham
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Wheelchair athlete - Aaron Fotheringham

Aaron Fotheringham, nicknamed “Wheelz’, is a WCMX athlete born in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1991. Aaron was born with Spina Bifida, a defect where the spinal cord does not fully develop. This has resulted in him having no use of his legs since birth.

Aaron is the founder of a sport called WCMX. In WCMX wheelchair athletes use purpose-built chairs to perform tricks and stunts adapted from skateboarding and BMX. Since formation, he’s executed many dangerous stunts from his chair and become the first-ever to complete many of them.

Aaron’s main enjoyment growing up was hanging out with his friends at the skate parks in LA. He would devise his own BMX routines from his wheelchair. When he realised it could become a lot more than a passion, he started taking part in BMX Freestyle competitions. After a short length of time, he had already won several, including the 2005 Vegas AmJam BMX Finals.

Since then, his passion has been for increasingly-impressive stunts. In 2005, he performed a 180-degree turn mid-air. The following year, he performed the first-ever wheelchair backflip. In 2010, this became the first-ever double backflip.

In 2018, he set three new records on Guinness World Records Day, including the ‘Farthest wheelchair ramp jump’ and the ‘Highest wheelchair hand plant’.

Alongside all of this, Aaron performs live with the active sports collective Nitro Circus. The show has been described as ‘adrenaline junkies performing death-defying stunts’. A little while after his 18th birthday he got an email from a producer of Nitro Circus. They’d heard he was trying to jump a big ramp but that nobody would give him permission. Their response was: ‘Here at Nitro Circus, we’re not going to stop you doing it.’”

Aaron started riding as a young teenager. His brother told him he should come to his BMX park and try to ride his chair. Once he’d received permission from his father, he was helped up a four-foot quarter pipe in an attempt to ‘drop in’. He then fell multiple times but finally, he rode down the pipe successfully. Not too long ago, he performed his first backflip. After this moment, he realised he was on the right path to doing what he wanted to do in life: be a professional athlete.

As he’s a real trendsetter there was never a wheelchair athlete for him to look up to. As such, his idols growing up were BMX riders Tony Hawk and Travis Pastrana.

Now a highly decorated athlete, Aaron is himself an idol to others. He’s a four-time winner of the WCMX World Championships and holder of seven world records. Since he was a toddler, he’s never let himself be stereotyped or held back by his condition.

Nowadays, Aaron still travels the world working and performing motivational speeches. He has also appeared at summer camps for disabled children as a coach and mentor. Once he retires from stunts he aims to get into wheelchair design.