By Danny Baggott @DAN_BAGGIE

AARON ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham is unable to control his legs – but that hasn’t stopped him achieving SIX world records and becoming a sporting superstar

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Born Different, Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham, Wheelchair Motocross, Spina Bifida, congenital defect, professional WCMX rider, Wheelchair Motocross, wheelchair backflip, wheelchair double backflip, wheelchair front flip, wheelchair backflip 360, wheelchair backflip 180, skateboard, BMX tricks, BMX, motocross, wheelchair, Barcroft TV

Videographer / director: Jessica Sherry
Producer: Danny Baggott, Ruby Coote
Editor: Beth Angus

 

Aaron was born with Spina Bifida, a rare congenital defect of the spine that often causes paralysis of the lower limbs.

The 27-year-old got his first wheelchair when he was just three years old and soon began his journey into the world of Wheelchair Motocross.

His natural skating ability became more obvious and by the time he turned 14, he was the first ever person to land a backflip in a wheelchair.

Aaron, who resides in Las Vegas, told Barcroft TV: “I wouldn’t say that Spina Bifida defines me.

“The opportunities that I’ve seen because of my wheelchair have just been unreal and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

“I’ve become a professional WCMX (Wheelchair Motocross) rider, which is pretty much taking skateboard and BMX tricks and performing them on a wheelchair.

“I was the first ever person to land the backflip, the double backflip, front flip, a backflip 360 and a backflip 180 on a wheelchair.

“I was 14 at the time I landed the backflip – I have tried this trick hundreds of times since and I’ve only landed it twice.

“I feel grateful every day that I’ve been able to find something that I love and to be able to make a living from riding a wheelchair is pretty cool!”

Due to his condition, Aaron has now had 22 surgeries.

“Growing up with all the surgeries, I spent a lot of time in the hospital – that was rough,” he said.

“It affects the strength in my knees, my ankles and my hips. I have a little bit of movement in my hips and my knees, but nothing in my ankles.

“I’ve been riding for 19 years now.

“I first dropped into a skatepark when I was eight years old, thanks to a little peer pressure from my brother.

“After a couple of crashes, a couple of faceplants, I was able to roll away from it. From that moment, I was hooked.

“I would actually say the most challenging thing about life with Spina Bifida is the way other people treat me because of it.


“The first time people see me in a skatepark, they’re normally like ‘what are you doing here?’

“But then by the time I’ve done some tricks, they’re just totally pumped. It’s cool to see how supportive most people are.”

Aaron has amassed a strong following online, with more than 500,000 followers on Instagram.

He takes pride in the fact that people see him as an inspiration.

One of his online followers, Kaleb Lyons, said: “I followed him on Instagram and went through his whole page.

“Just the fact that he landed the double backflip on a wheelchair is so amazing.

“He is so inspiring! I’m just speechless from what he does.”

And Aaron’s biggest support system comes from his wife, Charlee.

They tied the knot back in February 2018 and whilst she often worries that Aaron might hurt himself whilst performing his tricks, she can’t deny how much the sport has helped him.

She said: “I think that what Aaron shows individuals, is that the struggle doesn’t define you for the rest of your life.

“When I look at him, I’m mostly in awe.

“Aaron’s ability in the skate park is extremely impressive. If you watch him, the way he moves with his chair, it’s like they’re one and the same.

“It’s beautiful to watch.

“It’s also quite scary for me. He’s not going to give up and sometimes, it drives me crazy because I wish he could stop.

“But the successes are so much greater because he accomplishes them after all of the hard work.”

Aaron would now like to see himself progress further in the sport and to make Wheelchair Motocross more popular with the public.

“I want to see more kids out there in the parks, having fun with their wheelchair,” he said.

“Riding has given me so much to be thankful for.

“I’ve said this before, a wheelchair is just wheels stuck to your butt – how can that not be fun?”