Man, paralyzed in 2011, walks across stage to receive his college diploma

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Adam Shelton lines up with his fellow ECPI University, Moorefield campus graduates. In just minutes, he will receive his diploma.

This commencement is a moment Shelton dreamed about since the accident on Interstate-64 that changed his life in 2011.

“Car flipped eight times,” Shelton recounts. “I got ejected from the driver’s side window. The car landed on me, so it fractured two of my vertebrae, exploded one, six ribs, sternum, collapsed lung, and I broke my leg in four places.”

Paralyzed from the waist down, Shelton was told he would never walk again.

“Once you tell me that, that’s kind of like my rebel side coming out,” he says with a grin.

After three years of surgeries and rehabilitation, Shelton decided to move on from the dock work he’d done for more than a decade.

“I wanted to use my brain instead of my brawn,” he says. “I pursued a career, a degree at ECPI, and I’m proud of myself for my overcoming and my achievement.”

Dr. Kenneth King, the Computer Information Systems Program Director at the ECPI Moorefield campus, says Shelton did not share what had happened during his years in school, but he is now blown away by what Shelton has overcome.

“Inspiration, never quitting, never giving up and not letting a disability or an unfortunate situation be a show stopper,” Dr. King says. “In fact, he turned it around and capitalized on it.”

Now today this man who was told he would never walk again did just that across the stage.

“Adam Shelton, Magna Cum Laude,” the speaker announced as Shelton accepted his Network Security Diploma.

His biggest supporters cheered him on.

“I love my parents, I love my son to death,” he says. “Without them, I don’t think I’d be able to get through this.”

This graduation day was Shelton’s moment to shine, but now he wants others who hear his story to reach for their stars too.

“If he can do it, I can do it,” Shelton explains the message he wants to share. “That’s my whole purpose, my heavenly duty right there.”

Shelton already has a job lead, and he says everything he has done to reach this point in his life he did for his son.

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