SOUTH ST. COUNTY, Mo. -- A high school senior who arrived at graduation in a wheelchair shocked his classmates by walking across the stage to receive his diploma Tuesday night.
Brad Bauer, the water polo captain at Lindbergh High School in Missouri, suffered serious spinal injuries during a spring break trip when he dove into water without realizing a sandbar was underneath.
“As a team we thought, 'Oh no, this is the end,'” said teammate Casey Natsch. “But we rallied around him.”
Bauer received a standing ovation at Chaefetz Arena when the determined senior stood for his diploma. His teammates told KTVI they were not surprised their captain made his way across the stage.
“If he wants to do it, he’s going to do it,” said teammate Ethan Schnieder.
The Lindbergh community has rallied behind Bauer. They sold T-shirts and wristbands to help with medical expenses. Even some of the school’s rivals purchased and wore items.
Bauer’s coach gave his captain a big hug Tuesday and said this season was more about a lesson in life than water polo.
“I always tell them life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent about how you deal with it,” coach Andy Butler said. “And that’s a lot of what this year was for us.”
Bauer said the support he’s received has meant a lot. He said walking across the stage was the only way he was going to receive his diploma.
“I got to get up. I got to get to where I was and that’s how it’s got to be,” said Bauer.
He said Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital continues to help him rehab.