Austin Coppola attended Fairport High School in Fairport, New York. His twin brother, Ty, who has Down syndrome, did not. But last week, at the school's graduation ceremony, that difference mattered little.
Austin had refused to take part in the ceremony unless his brother was allowed to walk on stage with him. Austin told his mom that Ty deserved the same recognition and praise he would be getting that night.
"'Mom, Ty has worked harder than me, he's endured more challenges,'" the twins' mom, Cheryl Coppola, quoted Austin as saying, according to ABC-affiliate WHAM-TV. "'Yeah, I've earned it, I worked hard for my degree, but he's worked hard in a different way.'"
On June 26, Austin got his wish. The young man and his brother, both wearing caps and gowns, took to the stage together to receive Austin's diploma.
— Patrice Walsh (@PatriceWalsh13) June 27, 2014
It was emotional moment for the 17-year-old brothers -- and for all those who witnessed it. The pair reportedly received a standing ovation from the crowd gathered. Austin took to Twitter to say the response brought him "to tears."
That standing ovation for Ty brought me to tears. The FHS class '14 will always hold a place in my heart. I hope to see all of you again !!
— Austin Coppola (@acoppola8) June 27, 2014
"This is probably going to be one of the most memorable moments of my life and it means so much to me that [Ty] can share it with me," Austin told WHAM-TV. "I'm definitely a much better person with him in my life. There's no way I would be the same without him. Not at all."
Watch the boys' emotional evening in the video above. Warning: You might want to get out those tissues.