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Colorado teen overcomes disability to walk across stage at graduation

Teen with cerebral palsy sparks inspiration

Like most graduates, teenager Carson Covey had a lot of things on his mind, but stage fright was not one of them. The Chatfield High School senior joined his classmates at Red Rocks Amphitheater to walk and accept their diplomas Thursday -- no small feat for Covey, who lives with cerebral palsy, and was determined to step up to the podium.

"I decided, two years ago, that my goal was to walk across the stage at graduation," Covey told CBS Denver. "I think I can do anything, when I set my mind to it."

Sure enough, he walked for the first time within months of his graduation. Prior to that, he had been confined to his bed and wheelchair -- not that it stopped him from leading an active life.

Covey signed up for a weight training class taught by Chatfield High's football coach, Bret McGatlin. From there, Covey asked to get involved with the team. He served as an unofficial coach and team manager.

"You would hear the buzz from his little wheelchair, and they would be doing pushups right away," McGatlin said.

When he became determined to walk tall with his friends and teammates, Covey continued working out and sought help from physical therapist Hank Schwartze. Covey's regimen included squats and weight lifting.

"We had to work on everything," Schwartze said.

Covey was using muscles that had gone unused his entire life. Schwartze took a personal interest in the effort, donating personal time and money into getting Covey on his feet -- including buying the specialized walker that would get Covey across the stage.

For the first time in his life, he was carrying himself -- and to a standing ovation.

"If you want a goal, work at that goal," Covey said. "It may take you 15 years, at some point you will do it."