Wheelchair-bound graduate calls walk to get diploma 'liberating'

18-year-old, twin brother talk about their health challenges

By Zachery Lashway - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One day after hearing from a mother surprised to see her son with cerebral palsy get up and walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma, the Ed White graduate talked about achieving his goals.

Jericho Burroughs spends most of his time in a wheelchair.

"He told me I would be surprised at graduation, but I was thinking he was going to sing like the baccalaureate service," Jericho Burroughs' mother, Jennifer Long, said. 

But Burrough had promised himself and others he would walk to get his diploma, and he did.

"After months and months of preparation and working very hard on my graduation day, it just so happened I walked across that stage and I went to get what I deserved, and that was my high school diploma, Jericho said. "It felt liberating. I felt powerful in that moment."

Jericho said he plans to attend Florida State College at Jacksonville in the fall and hopes to get a degree in social work.

The neurological disorder affects movement and muscle tone. Jericho's twin brother, Joel, has epilepsy.

"I don’t know what I would do without him. I love him to death," Jericho said.

SLIDESHOW: Jericho Burroughs' family photos

Jericho said that despite their disabilities, the brothers are treated no differently than the rest of their family members.

"You can’t pull that disability card around here. They aren’t going to play that. You are going to clean up like everyone else. You are going to fix your food like everyone else," Jericho said.

"For me, it’s just challenges. It’s all you think about: life full of challenges," he said. "For so long, I have had to roll in this wheelchair.  Don’t get me wrong, I make it work. They call me 'Hot Wheels' for a reason," Jericho said. "I make it work now."

Jericho said his family's love and support inspired him to live his best life for his senior year.

"I won prom king," Jericho said. "When they called my name, I am telling you, I was literally about to fall out of the chair."

He was also one of Ed White's first adaptive track athletes.

Jericho said he is grateful for his family, friends, teachers and administrators at Ed White High School.

"I did what most people in my condition won’t be able to do, and that is beat the odds," Jericho said. "I am what it looks like to be unstoppable, unbreakable, unmovable. That’s me. Because when you roll, we all roll."

Joel has one more year in high school, but he told News4Jax, "I am planning to go to college.

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