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Paralyzed California teen walks at high school graduation

A California teen paralyzed nearly all his life lived up to his big promise this week and walked on stage to accept his high school diploma.

For the last three years, 17-year-old Patrick Ivison of San Diego has been going through intensive training for Tuesday’s ceremony, enduring six hours per day of physical therapy, according to KGTV in San Diego.

He vowed to everyone he knew that he was going to walk on stage during commencement.


"There's always that like, oh, I've got, you know, all of America expecting me to get through this," Ivison told KGTV.

The Scripps Ranch High School student suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident when he was only 14 months old.

When Ivison appeared on stage during commencement ceremonies, cheers and a standing ovation greeted him, encouraging him every step of the way. With the help of his trainer, a custom walker and his service dog, Ivison accepted his diploma. He graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average, according to KGTV.

"Graduation was fantastic and it was like I was in another time zone," Janice Kyler, Ivison's grandmother, told msnbc.com on Thursday. "He walked slow and it was the best walking he has ever done."

"We’re thrilled, proud and words can’t express the emotions. He's worked so hard to get to this point. He's a sweetheart,” Kyler said.

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She said the injury has done little to stop her spirited grandson. 

Ivison was inspired to surf when he was 8 years old after seeing an adaptive surfer in the documentary "Step into Liquid," according to NBCSanDiego.com. By 13, he was competing in the U.S. Open of Surfing and Life Rolls On, a non-profit organization created to improve the lives of young people with spinal cord injuries, has been with all the way.

"We couldn’t be more proud of Patrick Ivison," said Kris Nakamura, executive director of Life Rolls On, in a statement. "Serving as an ambassador for Life Rolls On Foundation since he began surfing with us at 8-years-old, he has grown into an incredible young man who continues to be a shining example of how life truly rolls on after spinal cord injury. His first steps are just an example of even greater things to come."

These days, the teen is busy with college plans.

Ivison was unavailable for comment on Thursday because he was attending orientation at the University of Southern California, which he plans to attend in the fall to study film.

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