Three times Tim Bannon attempted the 20-inch box jump and came up short, as his trainers yelled at him not to quit. He had been practicing for three days.
The 14-year-old from Illinois, who was born without arms due to a genetic condition, said he couldn't shake the fear in the back of his mind as he attempted the jumps at summer camp on Monday.
"One of my biggest fears was if I fall,'' Bannon told TODAY. "I get that there's two big, broad-shouldered guys there (to catch me), so I just finally thought of it more like a trust fall. I couldn't quit."
Bannon later nailed the jump, hopping on the box and shedding tears as his trainers roared their approval during the camp session at NubAbility, an southern Illinois-based foundation dedicated to inspiring limb-different youth (congenital or traumatic amputees).
The video of the moment went viral and has been watched more than four million times.
"I don't like seeing myself in general, but when I saw the video and my mom scrolled down and showed me how many views it had already, I was in awe,'' Bannon said.
"For most able-bodied people, the whole box jump thing, it's all arm thrust and arm strength," he said. "When you hear this kid with no arms did a box jump, you're like, 'Holy cow, how did he do that?'"
The secret, he said, "It was mostly core strength and legs."
Bannon was one of 185 kids to attend the camps this year by NubAbility, which features mentors and trainers who are limb different and have reached high levels of athletics. The kids came from 45 states and five other countries.
The foundation was created nine years ago by Sam Kuhnert, 26, a former college baseball player who was born without a left hand.
"Tim has always been a warrior,'' Kuhnert told TODAY. "What Tim displayed was that 'never give up' mentality. He could've tried to quit, but he didn't."
"That's the main focus of that camp, to get 'can't' out of a kid's vocabulary,'' Bannon said.
For Bannon, there was an emotional moment that didn't appear on camera, when coach Sabrina Reiswig, who can be seen motivating Bannon to hit the jump, showed how proud she was when he landed it.
"She was telling him how nobody could ever take that away from him,'' Kuhnert said. "You saw the emotion of Tim when he finally conquered his fear."
This is the fourth year Bannon has attended the camp in Du Quoin. He previously played volleyball and participated in archery using his feet.
While he said the coaches at the camp have become "like family," his original inspiration was his mother.
Linda Bannon was also born without arms. She said they were diagnosed with Holt-Oram syndrome, which affects the bones of the hands and arms as well as the heart, according to the National Institutes of Health.
"For me growing up, there weren't a lot of organizations out there for kids with limb differences where we could spend a whole weekend,'' she told TODAY. "I was literally the only one all the time, so it was important for me to take him to these things so he could have the experience that I never got.
"To see him have that moment and see his coaches so excited, that was just great," she added.
The box jump was the latest proud moment for Tim Bannon's parents, who have always encouraged their only child to break through barriers.
"He's come a long way,'' Linda Bannon said. "He wasn't able to walk completely unassisted until he was almost 3, so to see that progression from how much he struggled in his physical development in the early years to now, people couldn't fathom how hard he has worked."
Conquering his fear and nailing the box jump felt like a triumph for more than just himself.
"I was about to go down in tears on my knees saying thank you to everybody who sent out that video,'' Bannon said. "I think that video helped out a lot of my peers and other limb-different athletes, just getting up on that box and showing it could be done."
"He was excited about the kids it would inspire and help to conquer their fears,'' Kuhnert said. "Tim's competition was himself and he beat his competition."
He's not done, either.
"My new challenge is a 24-inch box jump,'' Bannon said. "I'm going to be practicing all through the summer and school year."