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A 33-second video of a boy in a wheelchair jumping on a trampoline while begging to go faster has gone viral. The clip shows 4-year-old Wyatt Burggraff experiencing utter happiness as he bounces around.
“Wyatt has radiated joy from a very young age. He has this really special ability to draw people in and make them happy,” his mom, Allison Burggraff, 35, of Moorhead, Minnesota, told TODAY. “He embraces life to the fullest.”
Wyatt has spina bifida, a spinal birth defect that can cause physical impairment. While he walks with a walker, he tires easily so often relies on a wheelchair. When Wyatt was 2, his parents took him to TNT Kid's Fitness and Gymnastics in Fargo. TNT has programs for people of all ages and abilities.
“We want to support the movement skills and concepts and have an impact on their general health,” Nate Hendrickson, 39, the director of special needs at TNT, told TODAY. “We are really trying to help them be as independent as possible.”
It took time for Wyatt to trust the staff at TNT when he started. If Hendrickson moved Wyatt too fast or took him out of his wheelchair the toddler felt anxious. And, he certainly did not like the unpredictable trampoline.
“Individuals who use a wheelchair are not going to be subjected to different movements,” Hendrickson explained. “They are going to show hesitancy.”
Wyatt's mom agreed.
“Wyatt was nervous. When people have a special need a lot of times they don’t get as physical as they typically would,” she said. “He wasn’t used to this feeling of not being in control.”
But Wyatt slowly became comfortable. And, moving at TNT helped him develop his muscles so he can be more physical. He has enjoyed adaptive skiing and track since he started with gymnastics.
“It has just been a wonderful place and it brought him the self-esteem and self-confidence to get through those difficult times,” Burggraff said.
The video of Hendrickson and Wyatt jumping on the trampoline is the culmination of years of work.
“When he says ‘faster’ that tells me he is ready. He is feeling confident. He is feeling safe,” Hendrickson said. “He is moving forward and back, that is him trying to push back into (the trampoline).”
The Burggraffs still feel stunned by how many people the video has reached. They are glad that Wyatt’s experience shows that differently abled people can also enjoy physical activity.
“My biggest hope is that people will see that it is not a disability. It is just a different way of doing things. We can’t pigeonhole kids and adults with disability,” she said. “They can live life to the fullest just like anyone else.”