The ceremony for the students, who were moving on from Pepperell Primary to elementary school, was as regimented as a college graduation, yet lighthearted. Before names were announced, the students came together in song.
“Walking together, facing tomorrow, we know we’re not alone,” they sang. “Ready to make it, ready to take it, ready for paths unknown.”
As the names were ticked off and his turn got closer, 8-year-old Cade inched closer to the edge of the stage. He wore a calm, focused expression as his physical therapist Lindsay Johnson steadied him with a hug.
At last, the name Cade Maynor rang out from the speakers. His perceptive classmates were rewarded for their observant attention as they pointed toward the stage.
“There’s Cade!” one exclaimed from the crowd. “He’s walking! He’s walking!”
The crowd’s attention zeroed in on Cade, who looked straight ahead and lifted one foot a few inches forward as he leaned on a walker.
Paralyzed from the waist down after a tree struck him while he was swimming on June 16, 2011, Cade walked step by step in specialized leg braces toward his certificate by utilizing arm and abdominal muscles he had developed in therapy.
Last year’s incident left him with a traumatic brain injury. In October, he regained his speech, and since November he has worked with Infinity Children’s Services twice a week for three hours a day in Rome to regain as much independence as possible.
The audience erupted into applause and whistles as they came to their feet to cheer Cade across the stage. He turned his head toward the crowd as a voice raised above the rest and exclaimed, “You’re the man Cade!” He smiled and continued onward.
His mother, Corinthia Maynor, was alongside him as he traveled 40 feet across the stage, the longest distance he had walked since the injury. It was three weeks ago that he took his first few steps, and Maynor said he never once fussed or complained through the ordeal.
“It’s amazing how resilient he is,” said Maynor. “Every day he continues to get better. He has been through so much to overcome so much.”
Maynor is looking forward to her son walking across the stage at high school graduation now that he proved he could muster the strength and determination.
“Being a mom, that’s the first thing you think about,” said Maynor. “When I saw him walking, I said, ‘He’ll be able to walk across the stage and get his diploma.’”
When asked how he felt after his journey across the stage, Cade simply replied, “I was a superstar.”