My experiences thus far with the Mega Ramp, Never give up, keep trying, no matter how many times you come up short!
By Keith Hamm
In the specialized realm of MegaRamp riding — which includes very high speeds, customized protective gear, and mental poise in the face of grave bodily harm — a 20-year-old man in a wheelchair sits in a class all his own.
On Aug. 25, during a break in the competitive skateboarding action at the MegaRamp Rio contest in Brazil, Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, who has never had the use of his legs, claimed a piece of history by rolling down the steep, 55-foot-tall approach track and jumping the structure’s 50-foot gap.
The stunt was a formidable breakthrough for Fotheringham, who says he’s “not a big fan of heights,” and whose previous MegaRamp gap attempts have ended badly.
Back in April, he says, “I came in on my head” while trying to clear the 70-foot gap of the MegaRamp at Woodward West action sports camp in Southern California.
Then, just a few weeks before this historic trip to Brazil, he gave the Mega gap another go, this time at pro skateboarder Bob Burnquist’s personal backyard structure.
“I didn’t quite have the speed I needed on that one,” Fotheringham, who hails from Las Vegas and calls what he does “hardcore sitting,” told ESPN.com. “I knocked my teeth out. Fortunately, I had all the pieces, and they just glued my teeth back together again.”
Born with spina bifida, a birth defect of the spinal cord that has left him paraplegic, Fotheringham first started rolling around the skatepark in his wheelchair when he was 8 years old. “I was hooked,” he remembers.
According to his website, Fotheringham perfected 180-degree aerials in 2005 and a year later landed the first backflip in a wheelchair. He upped the ante two years ago with the first wheelchair double backflip, and in February of last year, he landed his first front flip.
Fotheringham has been part of the Travis Pastrana’s “Nitro Circus Live” tour since 2010, performing ramp-to-ramp backflips over gaps ranging from 32 to 40 feet.
“Aaron is such an inspiration,” says John Lytle, who handles Fotheringham’s website. “He’s changing the world for kids in wheelchairs.”
“I just want to keep progressing,” says Fotheringham. “Definitely front flips on a full-sized Mega. And I have a few more ideas up my sleeve.”