After he was paralyzed from the chest down in a bicycle accident, Manny Rios did something no one thought he’d ever do — he walked during his graduation ceremony at a Southern California high school.
In his blue cap and gown, he stepped out of his wheelchair on May 29 with some help from a walker and his therapist and took slow steps up a ramp to applause, chants of “Manny! Manny!” and “You can do it!”
“He always said he was going to walk across the stage to get his diploma,” said his sister, Mirna Hennicke, 35. “I’ve seen him take steps, but I did not think he was actually going to make it all the way across the stage.
"I cheered him on. I was like, ‘Wow, he did it!’”
For the family, Rios' graduation from Sultana High School in Hesperia was a huge day commemorated in a YouTube video for all to see.
Family members never thought Rios would walk, talk or even eat again after he suffered from an injury while riding a bike four years ago that put him in a coma.
Despite the setback, Rios never wavered, telling his family: "I will walk across the stage to get my diploma."
“He really is my superhero,” Hennicke said. “... No words to describe what I felt, actually seeing him accomplish what he said he was going to do.”
The family is raising the $12,500 needed to get Rios a service dog to assist him in his daily routines. You can donate here. As of Monday, the family has raised $140.