Every student works hard for the privilege to walk on stage during graduation, but this Missouri teen had a major adversity to overcome after he was severely injured just weeks before.
Brad Bauer, a graduating senior at Lindbergh High School, got up from his wheelchair to walk across the stage and receive his diploma on his own two feet, drawing rousing applause from his classmates.
“It was pretty rough,” Brad told InsideEdition.com. “I was just focusing on my feet. I didn’t have a chance to look around.”
His classmates cheered him on and rose in a standing ovation as he took those difficult steps, knowing the tough journey Brad has had with physical therapy since his freak accident during spring break.
The former captain of the water polo team said he was on a trip to Mexico with some friends when he dove into a wave, and broke his neck against a sand bar.
“[It was] rough at first. We all thought, ‘Maybe he’ll come back,’” his coach, Andy Butler told InsideEdition.com. “[But] we gave him the strength to recover and he gave us the strength to get through it.”
Despite injuring his spine at the C4 and C5 vertebrae, it was in the ICU that Brad decided he would walk during graduation.
“From Day 1, he always had a little bit of stubbornness and determination,” his mom, Laura Bauer, told InsideEdition.com. “[I was] speechless. There was so much emotion and pride, determination and attitude. All the support has been amazing."