A high school student from Kansas who’s paralyzed from the waist down took her first steps in years, across the graduation stage to receive her diploma in a moment that had the whole stadium in tears.
Anna Sarol, 18, from Kansas City, rose to her feet with the help of a walker, braces and her siblings at her graduation ceremony Olathe Northwest High School on May 19 — almost four years after a gymnastics accident following a fall on the uneven bars left her confined to a wheelchair.
“I told my family we are going to stand up, I don’t care if the people behind us can’t see, but I didn’t realize it would be a standing ovation, the whole stadium was standing,” Louicee Sarol, Anna’s mom, told “Good Morning America.”
Louicee Sarol said that she is “very, very proud of Anna” and the strength she has shown since the accident.
“From a mother’s perspective, it hurts to see your child like this, but she is my strength,” she said. “Here is my Anna — yes, she can’t walk, but she is inspiring people.”
“The only time I saw Anna cry when was when she was hurting,” her mom said. “She couldn’t get up, and she didn’t realize until a day after the surgery that she was paralyzed.”
Still, she added, “Her attitude was, ‘Life goes on, it could be worse.'”
Seeing her daughter walk for the first time in years was “just the best feeling,” Louicee Sarol said.
“Everybody, almost the whole stadium, was crying,” she added. “I looked back and parents are in tears of joy, all for Anna.”
Anna Sarol said that almost immediately after the injury four years ago, “I made a promise to myself that I’ll be determined to walk the grad stage, if I could walk at that point.”
She said she practiced with the help of her brothers and sisters, but when the day came came she admits she was nervous.
“I was very nervous, very anxious about the whole situation because my classmates haven’t seem me walk since freshman year,” she said.
“I could hear the whole crowd, and I looked up and I saw everybody on their feet, including everyone in the stadium and everyone in my class,” she said. “They all knew how hard I had been working towards this for the past couple of years.”
She described the feeling as “just incredible.”
After her walk, Anna Sarol said she had “so many people come up to me and say, ‘We don’t know you, but we’ve been following your journey, and we were all crying.'”
After finishing up high school, she said she hopes to become a motivational speaker, and is already sharing inspirational stories on her website and Facebook page, Pray for Anniboo.
She is also currently raising money for a prosthetic exosekeleton so that she can be able to walk again on her own.
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