Some people say there are no miracles, but when you see a teen with special needs walk again after being in a wheelchair for 8 years, it’s hard to call it anything else.
Daniel Stein is the owner of Special Strong, a fitness program for people with special needs like autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy.
In 2019, a woman named Mandy asked Daniel to help her 17-year-old son Brandon Neal, who had been in a wheelchair for 8 years.
Brandon had problems with his growth and development his whole life. He was born too small and with jaundice, so he was behind in his growth. He had trouble seeing and had to have five eye surgeries. He also walked in a strange way. A change in his genes was to blame for all of his problems.
Later, doctors found that he had scoliosis and a hip that was out of place. They suggested that he have surgery to fix his hip. Doctors thought Brandon would be able to walk again in six months, but he was stuck in a wheelchair, couldn’t walk, and was getting more anxious and sad.
After the hip surgery, he couldn’t walk for eight years. It hurt his sense of self-worth, and the teen said it stopped him from ever getting a girlfriend.
In 2019, Brandon’s parents wanted to buy him a new wheelchair, but he was determined to start walking again.
They heard about Special Strong’s gym for people with special needs and decided to give it a try. Brandon started to work with Daniel, and Daniel helped him get his strength back and start walking again.
It wasn’t easy. Brandon was afraid of a lot of the new activities. But Daniel pushed him to get past his fears and doubts.
Daniel wrote, “If you look at him, you might not think he was brave, but I can tell you he was as brave as anyone who has ever faced a fierce enemy or, even worse, their own demons.”
The program helped the teen get out of his wheelchair and use a walker and arm crutches instead.
Brandon made a big step forward in their fifth session together: he started walking without his walker. Daniel watched and told him to keep going. It had been eight years since he had walked on his own.
Daniel said during that session that it was just the beginning and that Brandon would soon be able to walk around on his own.
A few weeks later, that day came. Daniel told Brandon it was time for him to walk, and the teen said, “I’m ready.”
When they went outside, Brandon did something amazing: he walked on his own while the camera was rolling.
“It’s been eight years since you did this, and you’re making it look easy!” Daniel tells him that he has gone farther than he thought he would.
Daniel was happy that Brandon took his first steps, but he was even happier that he overcame his fears.
Daniel wrote, “After that, everything changed for Brandon and his whole family.” “He didn’t just start walking. He was no longer afraid. He had gotten rid of the assumptions and thoughts that held him back. He had won the battle with himself.
Brandon says it’s his dream to walk again after taking his first steps, and in a video posted just a few days later, he’s already doing a light jog on the treadmill:
The encouraging video went viral, and many people wrote Brandon notes of support. He has kept going to see Special Strong and taking more steps.