Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham is not your typical wheelchair user. Since being in grade school, the 22-year old has had to use a wheelchair due to his spina bifida but this extreme sport enthusiast never lets it get him down, in fact it’s the reason he is able to reach new heights today.
When Fotheringham was only 8-years old he would watch his older brother riding a BMX bike at the local skate park in Las Vegas, NV and soon got the idea to try using his wheelchair on the park ramps.
“I love adrenaline,” Fotheringham recently told reporters, “When I was a kid I would knock on people’s doors and roll away as quickly as could”.
While Fotheringham is aware of his condition he never used it as an excuse.
“I’m not paralyzed”, he says, “I have spina bifida and it affects my back and blah, blah, blah. All that boring stuff I’ve never really read.”
Now, the wheelchair extremist they call “Wheelz” is intent on defying extreme sports with incredible tricks he is capable of performing with his wheelchair. Recently in Madison Square Garden at a WCMX, or wheelchair motocross event, Wheelz stared down an intimidating 50’ ramp and performed a front flip while jumping over the length of three parallel-parked cars. Special stunt air bags were there to catch him after he completed the stunt that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Right now Wheelz in the undisputed king of WCMX but more kids are coming out to each event to join the ranks of the wheelchair adrenaline army. Wheelz knows how daunting the tricks can seem but he claims with patience and technique any disabled person using a wheelchair can quickly learn.
“After a while of putting in hours, you start progressing and doing bigger tricks and bigger drop-ins”, he says. “Then I did a 360 and that got boring. Then I wanted to do a back flip. The kids at the skate park were saying I should learn how. I think they were messing with me, but I took it serious.”
Now Wheelz presides over a rapidly growing wheelchair sport. Currently he is part of the Nitros Circus Live tour that features some of the world’s best BMX riders, skateboarders and daredevils in a thrilling show of flips, spins and breathtaking jumps. Wheelz is right at home.
“A wheelchair’s got a misconception or something because I feel like people are always trying to put a limit or stereotype along with it,” he says. “And that’s what I’m trying to break. Like, yeah, I’m on a wheelchair, but I can go down a 50-foot ramp”.