Student With Cerebral Palsy Walks For The First Time At His High School Graduation

Oklahoma high school student Micah McDade was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. But last week, he walked across the stage at his graduation to receive his diploma. Oh, I should’ve warned you this was a crying post. Sorry: This is a crying post, guys. Settle in.

After months of practicing, McDade’s graduation day walk was met with a standing ovation and lots of proud tears, which is a beautiful story that even I can’t jokingly throw snark at. Sure, people tend to get overly emotional at a lot of shit for no reason, but this is valid. Cry and cheer on.

McDade’s hometown news said that his life has been filled with surgeries and physical therapy, and warnings that he might never be able to walk. Even mild cerebral palsy requires dedicated care — physiotherapy, special adjustments to everyday routines, etc. — so if he uses a wheelchair, he must have undergone some serious medical care and heard some truly distressing prognoses.

To stand up and walk in the face of all that, to be willing to test your own limits and push yourself that way, is impressive at any age.

However, we need to avoid reducing McDade’s story to a piece of “isn’t that soooo00ooo0 inspiring?” fluff so we can feel better about ourselves for admiring a person with a disability. It’s precisely because his achievement is so heartwarming that we have to avoid turning it into what disability activist Stella Young calls “inspiration porn.” Reflecting it back on ourselves would belittle everything he put into walking across the stage that day. Of course it’s inspirational, and of course it makes us feel good — McDade’s graduation walk is proof that positive things can happen in this world — but what’s important is that he did something amazing.

Micah McDade, if you ever see this: you rock. Most of us can only dream of accomplishing the equivalent of what you did, and you’re not even in college yet. The adult world can be a weird and scary place, but with that kind of resolve, your future’s going to be great.