SEATTLE — Aaron Fotheringham was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect of the spinal cord, which resulted in him having no use of his legs, but he never let anything stop him through the power of manifesting his incredible spirit. Even as a baby and small child, he did anything anyone else his age could do; he just had to figure out how to make it work for him.
Aaron started riding at skateparks at the age of eight when his older brother Brian, a BMXer, said he should drop in.
“You know what I love about the skatepark is that the possibilities were endless” Aaron, who is a Nitro Circus professional rider, said.
At the beginning of his career, Aaron entered and won a few BMX Freestyle competitions, including the legendary 2005 Vegas AmJam BMX Finals, but for him, that was always secondary to the joy of riding and hanging out with friends at all the skateparks in Las Vegas.
Since he is the first athlete of his kind, Aaron does not have a coach.
“Nobody has done what I do before me. My friends who are professional BMX athletes give me advice, but they don’t really know how to do the tricks with a wheelchair."
"I have to figure it out on my own," he said. "It takes a lot of practice.”
After posting that first ever backflip on the internet, life has changed for Aaron; he has had the opportunity to travel globally, both performing and speaking. He has attended summer camps for disabled children as a coach/mentor. He has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and sports television, and of course, he receives and responds to e-mails from all over the world.
Over the years, Aaron has challenged himself to pioneer even more difficult stunts. In 2005, he perfected a mid-air 180-degree turn. Then, on July 13th, 2006, he landed the first wheelchair backflip. Four years later, at a camp in Woodward, he landed the first ever double backflip (Aug. 26, 2010). Since then, he has gone on to perform live on tour with Nitro Circus.
“Honestly it blows my mind, I have to pinch myself," he said. “The opportunity to be able to ride my wheelchair alongside some of the top action sports athletes, it's just been mind-blowing.”
Aaron enjoys showing young kids with disabilities that a wheelchair can be a tool, not a restriction. He loves helping younger children learn how to handle their chairs in new and different ways and teaching them a trick or two. Someday he hopes to design and build the most wicked chair in the world.
He will continue to compete in WCMX events and support all the advancements in the sport he pioneered.