Student in Wheelchair Surprises Class by Walking at Talent Show

Published 05/16 2012 04:51PM

Updated 05/17 2012 12:35PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) As school wrapped up for the summer in St. Joseph, one elementary school ended the year with a bang.

Pickett Elementary students took part in a talent show Wednesday, and one of this year's performers wowed the crowd in a way no one quite expected.

The gymnasium erupted in cheers as Caleb Roach, 6, made his way to the floor. Roach had prepared a special presentation for the end-of-the-year show.

But, as the crowd would soon learn, his talent was unlike any other. It was a talent that blossomed from tragedy.

Nine months ago, Roach was injured in a crash, and it didn't take him long to realize something was off.

"He instinctively knew that his legs didn't work anymore," said Crystal Neill, Caleb's mom.
He spent 6 weeks at Chlidren's Mercy Hospital. That's where he learned how to get around in his new set of wheels.

"We had a rough year, but we've come a long way," Neill added.

Roach traveled to Chicago in December with the help of the Shriner's hospital. He received advanced therapy and leg braces while he was there.

Between travels and treatments, he took on kindergarten with his classmates.

So, it's not surprise his school roared with excitement when he finally revealed that special talent.

"He decided, 'I want to walk.' I thought it would be awesome because he went to school all year with his friends and they haven't seen him do this," said Neill.

The accomplishment brought tears for some of his biggest fans and Roach was overcome with emotion too.

"They weren't sad tears, they were happy tears. He didn't expect that reaction. I don't think he understands what he did today," said Neill.

But, his family understands. Each step is a sign of hope for this little boy with a big talent.

"Caleb has come a long way. He was that child in a hospital bed and now he's up walking today. It's truly a miracle," Neill added.

With Roach's injuries, his family is hopeful technology and his own strength might one day help him walk again without the support braces.

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