Launching himself from a 12-foot vertical drop, he raced full speed to the other side of the bowl, planted his hand on the edge, and dropped back down.
“Man, that feels good,” Aaron, known to the locals as “Wheelz,” said as he skidded to a stop. “I don’t think any drug in the world could top that. I love adrenaline.”
Aaron doesn’t just fit in with the other teenage daredevils skating and biking at this park, he routinely outdoes them by pulling off stunts like hand plants and heart-stopping back flips.
Aaron’s talent at the skate park isn’t the only thing setting him apart from his skating buddies. He’s different in one very crucial way. Aaron is in a wheelchair.
Wheelchair Isn’t Just a Medical Instrument
“A lot of people think of the wheelchair as a medical instrument,” Aaron told ABC News, as he sat among a pile of busted wheels in the back yard of his family’s home. “I think that’s wrong. You know, why not think of it as something fun?”
Born with spina bifida, a birth defect of the spinal cord, Aaron has been without the use of his legs since birth.
“We credit a lot of his progression or desire to do what he’s doing to the fact that we were told by the doctors that he would be completely incapable,” Aaron’s mother, Kaylene Fotheringham, 51, told ABC News in the family’s suburban Las Vegas home. “They’re telling us as an infant, ‘Oh, you know, he’s not going to be able to sit independently. He’ll never walk.”
“I’ve often wished I knew where that doctor was,” she added. “To say, ‘Look at this kid that you told us would never be anything. And look at what he’s done.'”
Making History in a Wheelchair
Aaron, who welds many of his own chairs, and estimates he’s busted 8 or 9 wheels since the start of the year, started riding at skate parks at age eight, after watching his older brother take ramps on a bicycle.
Today he travels the world with other extreme athletes, performing his stunts at events like Nitro Circus Live, where he routinely jumps off a nearly 50-foot ramp in front of thousands.
Aaron keeps shredding his limits.
“That was probably the best feeling ever,” Aaron said of the day he landed the flip. “That was probably the happiest I’d ever been. I couldn’t sleep that night. I was just so pumped up.”
Despite the excitement and adrenaline he gets from pulling off a stunt, Aaron said it can’t compare to inspiring kids like him.
Zac Puddy, a 7-year old boy from Seattle who’s been in a wheelchair ever since suffering a stroke 18 months ago, is one of thousands who sees in Aaron possibilities for a life for himself that he thought was only for other kids.
On a recent afternoon, Zac and Aaron rolled around the Puddy family driveway together.
“One more time. Get set. Go!” Zac yelled as he and Aaron sped down the pavement side-by-side.
“He’s a hero, he’s a hero” Zac’s mother, Linda Puddy said. “He thinks Aaron flies. ”
Aaron’s mother, Kaylene, says that’s the best part of seeing her son’s success.