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Utah boy paraglides, wheelchair and all

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Oct 14th, 2013 @ 6:20pm


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SANDY — Super Fly Paragliding has helped hundreds of people take to the skies, but very few have done so in a wheelchair.

Reese Thorne is the rare exception. The 9-year-old has cerebral palsy, and he communicates with the world through facial expressions and a touch-screen computer.

But being in a wheelchair doesn't stop Reese from swimming, horseback riding, playing baseball, and yes, even paragliding.

On Saturday afternoon, Reese had the opportunity to paraglide at the Point of the Mountain.

For his mom Carla, every one of Reese's activities seems like an adventure.

"Sometimes I think people think 'Wow, how can you let him do those things?' " Carla Thorne said. "We know that Reese will probably not live as long as most people's children, and we don't want to have any regrets when it's over."

But paragliding in a wheelchair?

Chris Santacroce, a co-owner of Super Fly, operates one of the few hang-gliding companies in the country that has wheelchair capabilities.

"Specifically, it lets us take people from whatever chair they may be in to our chair," Santacroce said. "We roll 'em out to launch, and we can take them in all sorts of conditions."


We know that Reese will probably not live as long as most people's children, and we don't want to have any regrets when it's over.

–Carla Thorne, Reese's mom


Now Reese's classmates want to paraglide too.

"But there's just one problem," said classmate Delaney Dunleavy of Meadowbrook Elementary School. "I'm afraid of heights."

"He inspires me to help other people," Dunleavy said, "because, even if they don't look like us or talk, they're still a normal person."

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