Lots of high school seniors across the country weren’t sure if they were going to be able to walk across the stage at graduation.
Maggie Rocke of Virginia is among those seniors but her uncertainty didn’t arise from the coronavirus quarantine restrictions.
Well, actually that ended up happening too, but she had another reason for not being sure if she could walk down the aisle.
That reason was not being able to walk.
You see Maggie has cerebral palsy.
She was diagnosed at birth. But that wasn’t going to stop Maggie from achieving her dream of walking at graduation.
She was determined to do so.
So, Maggie spent hours and hours practicing her walking in her driveway to make her dream a reality.
“I basically made walking an everyday, or almost every day, part of my life, because I knew if I wanted to make this happen, it couldn’t be something where I just did it on a whim,” Maggie told WSLS 10 News.
But then coronavirus hit, threatening to cancel graduation ceremonies at Godwin High School.
“For the first time I actually cried a little bit, because I knew that this was so huge to her,” said Maggie’s mom Ginny said.
Thankfully, students were permitted to walk across the stage in a mini graduation ceremony.
This scaled-down event would have no big crowds but students could still receive their diplomas and take some photos.
And when it was time for Maggie to walk across that stage, she was ready.
Maggie proudly accepted her diploma walking toward the hand off with the aid of a walker.
She stopped and smiled for a picture along the way, donning a sparkly graduation cap that read “What She Tackles She Conquers.”
“It’s surreal,” Maggie said when her walk was complete.
“I know, but you did it,” her physical therapist Laura Fultz said. “You’re family must be so proud of you.”
“We are, we are,” her dad replied.
And so were thousands of others. The video of Maggie’s graduation walk was viewed more than 8,000 on the Henrico Schools’ Twitter page.
Many found the video to be nothing short of inspiring.
“Congratulations Maggie! I have cerebral palsy! Continue to shine,” wrote one commenter.
Her school was also incredibly proud of her hard work and accomplishments.
“What a joy it was to watch this moment from Godwin High School senior Maggie Rocke, who had a goal since the beginning of high school to walk across the graduation stage to receive her diploma” the school district wrote on it’s Facebook page. “Her physical therapist, Laura Fultz, told us earlier this year that Maggie has worked so hard from early in her school career overcoming many obstacles associated with cerebral palsy.”
What a joy it was to watch this moment from Godwin High School senior Maggie Rocke, who had a goal since the beginning of high school to walk across the graduation stage to receive her diploma, overcoming many obstacles associated with cerebral palsy. Congratulations, Maggie!!! pic.twitter.com/CAIm2fnFBu
— Henrico Schools (@HenricoSchools) June 24, 2020
“Unfortunately without the Seigel Center crowd she was expecting, this COVID-19 closure has taken that public opportunity from her, and we [wanted] to make it up to her somehow! She has continued to work hard practicing and improving her physical strength during the closure and is planning to walk to receive her diploma.”
Though being able to walk across the stage was difficult, Maggie said it was absolutely worth it.
“I think I’m still kind of in shock and surprised that I did it. I think it will definitely be a mile marker in my life journey that I will never forget,” Maggie said. “Yes, there were a lot of stumbling blocks and roadblocks to get here, but with the support of everyone I did it.”
Learn more about Maggie’s inspiring story in the video below.
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