By Kristina Rex

BLACKSTONE (CBS) – If you read Bradley Gignac’s graduation cap, you’ll see a quote from Alice in Wonderland: “Every adventure requires a first step.”

Gignac took that first step, when the paralyzed graduate shocked his Blackstone-Millville classmates by walking to receive his diploma.

Gignac was left paralyzed with a traumatic brain injury after a boating accident when he was just a kid in 2003. He was riding a jet ski with his dad, Kevin, a local firefighter, when they were struck by an oncoming boat. Bradley’s father died instantly.

Bradley Gignac walks at Blackstone-Millville graduation (WBZ-TV)

When you ask Bradley who he wanted to walk for, he slowly answers, “my dad.” Despite not being able to walk since he was a toddler, Bradley knew he needed to achieve this goal.

“We never thought we’d be at this moment because they actually didn’t think he’d pull through,” his grandmother, Celeste, explained. “So this is really a miracle. And you just don’t give up hope.”

Bradley Gignac (WBZ-TV)

Bradley Gignac’s name was called early on in the graduation ceremony. He rolled his electric wheelchair up a ramp onto the makeshift sidewalk stage, and with the help of the school community, stood up and slowly walked to get his diploma.

The crowd roared to its feet, and chanted “Bradley! Bradley!” as he walked. It felt “good,” the 19-year-old told WBZ.

Gignac will stay in a special school program until he turns 22, and after that — his future is up to him.

Kristina Rex

Comments (2)
  1. Will Long says:

    Bradley: Obviously, we have never met; and I do not know you personally. However, as a fellow human-being, please permit me to say how proud I am of you! I grieve for your late father and the tragic event that brought you to this moment; but I am certain that your father would be immensely proud of you at your graduation!

    I wish you all the best for the future. Do not give up hope; keep as strong as you are today. Technology is advancing so rapidly that even a full recovery might be in your future. If that does not prove to be true, take consolation in knowing how greatly you have inspired others.

  2. This isn’t “walking.” This is “ambulating.” And as someone who’s been an incomplete quadriplegic (spinal cord not completely severed) since 1978, I have to say that this kind of story is patronizing to those of us with disabilities. These stories are supposed to be “inspirational”—to the ABLE-BODIED. It makes them feel better because they don’t have it as hard as others. These stories lead to a lot of misunderstanding among the able-bodied. They see stories like this, misunderstand what it means (this person has NOT overcome their disability), then can’t understand why the rest of us in wheelchairs don’t just stand up & walk, too. After all, with so many stories in the news about the paralyzed walking (often with references to God & prayer), those of us who DON’T “walk” must be lazy and/or evil. Otherwise, God would cure us, too. Please, media, stop using the disabled as click bait and using language that misleads—or is outright untrue. This person will never actually walk again. Let the disabled lead their lives, without burdening us with tale tales of “miracles.” We aren’t put here to be your inspiration. We just wanted to be treated like normal people—which we ARE.

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