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Sam Bridgman Stands From Wheelchair, Walks Across Stage At College Graduation (VIDEO)

05/10/2013 03:50 pm 15:50:29 | Updated May 10, 2013

"Impossible is nothing" is Sam Bridgman's life motto -- a maxim the young man embodied this week when he walked across the stage to receive his college diploma.

Bridgman has Friedreich's ataxia (FA), a rare degenerative neuromuscular disorder that has, in recent years, left him reliant on a motorized wheelchair.

But as his graduation from the University of Portland approached, the 21-year-old was determined to walk on his own two feet during the ceremony.

According to a 2012 report in the Oregonian, Bridgman has been working regularly with the university's athletic trainers to keep his legs active.

"'Cause I don't get to walk anymore, it gives me the ability to feel like I'm walking," Bridgman said of the exercises at the time.

On May 5, the years of continued effort paid off. Flanked and aided by two trainers, Bridgman -- a tireless advocate for FA awareness and research -- stood up from his wheelchair and walked to and across the stage, accepting his diploma with a huge smile stretched across his face.

Beloved and deeply respected by his peers, the young man and his show of tremendous courage was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation.

"Truly the most inspirational guy I have ever met! Congratulations Sam!" one University of Portland alum wrote on Facebook Monday.

Watch the young man's remarkable graduation walk in the video above. (Just remember to keep some tissues handy.)

For more on Sam Bridgman, watch this video created by Vimeo user Jeff Kennel:

(Hat tip: Yahoo! )

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