Graduate in wheelchair walks to get his high school diploma in Massachusetts

High school seniors graduating this week are making significant strides in their lives.

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In Blackstone, Massachusetts, one graduate who has used a wheelchair most of his life reached a lifetime goal by walking to get his diploma.

At Blackstone Millville Regional High School, Bradley Gignac is as enthusiastic as every other senior.

"I’m super excited," Gignac said.

Gignac's speech and life were affected when he was 3 1/2. A jet ski accident in 2003 took the life of his father, and left Gignac with a traumatic brain injury. But he's worked tirelessly ever since.

"We’ve been doing physical therapy for 16 years. He’s had several setbacks because of operations," said Celeste Gignac, who is Bradley's grandmother.

His late father served as his motivation to adjust to life's challenges.

Graduation day was Bradley Gignac's big moment.

Bradley's goal was to do more than just be handed his diploma. He wanted to walk up to the stage and receive it.

There was thunderous applause as Bradley walked on his own power to get his diploma.

And with each step, his classmates and their families cheering him on, the emotion caught up with him.

"He was very nervous. Normally, he can walk up to 1,000 feet so yeah, overwhelming," his grandmother said.

As everyone fixated on Bradley, his grandmother said his focus was on someone else, the one person who could not be here: his late dad.

"The first thing Bradley said when he woke up this morning was, 'I'm walking for my dad today," Celeste Gignac said.

Bradley will be staying in school for an adult life skills program.

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