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Parkland student walks for first time in 3 years at graduation

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 09 2014 09:05:52 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 10 2014 09:52:24 AM CDT

Jared Brown walked to get his diploma.

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. -

A Lehigh County high school student brought an entire crowd to its feet on Monday night at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem.

It was truly a walk to remember for Jared Brown, a member of the class of 2014 at Parkland High School.

Brown was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just 14-months-old. At age 14, he was confined to a wheel chair, but the last three years, Brown spent every second possible working to make sure he could walk with everyone else at his graduation.

"He has been working extremely hard. He never gives up," said Jana Brown, Jared's mom.

"It's difficult for him to move, and do the things a lot of us take for granted--standing, walking. But he pushes right through it," said Erin Martinez, a physical therapist at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation.

On Monday night, Jared's dreams came true. In front of his peers, parents, and teachers, Jared took his first steps in almost three years.

Jared proudly walked across the stage, and squirmed with joy as he waved his diploma for everyone to see.

"That's what finished it for me!" exclaimed Jerry Brown, Jared's dad.

Jared, admittedly, had nerves in the moments leading up to the walk.

"I feel like I can do anything now," Jared said. "Never give up hope."

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There was also a special guest in the audience, one that Jared didn't expect until a surprise visit at his home earlier in the afternoon. Ryan Berg came all the way from Iowa on Monday to be at his ceremony.

"I wouldn't want to miss it," Berg said.

Berg got in touch with Jared four months ago through the I Walk For Foundation. Through the program, Berg acts as Jared's legs by running for him in marathons.

"I know I'm doing it for someone it matters to," Berg said.

Jared now has aspirations to become a sign language interpreter, a skill he taught himself.