Wheelchair-bound Utah boy gets chance to paraglide

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BOUNTIFUL, Utah -- A 9-year-old Bountiful boy got a rare chance to fly tandem on a paraglider. Due to a health condition, everyone thought it would be impossible, but thanks to a visionary paragliding pilot he soared higher than anyone expected.

Pilot Chris Santacroce with Superfly Inc., a paragliding company, asked Reese Thorne’s mother if he could take her son flying. Reese has cerebral palsy--he can’t speak and is bound to a wheelchair.

“I want him to be known as someone who's got abilities, not disabilities,” said Reese’s mother, Carla Thorne. “We never say that he's disabled because, yeah, he has some special challenges and special needs, but he's not disabled.”

Santacroce survived a spinal injury and spent some time in a wheel chair. Since then, he’s made it a personal mission to help kids get out of their wheel chairs and into a paraglider, if only for a couple of minutes.

“I got to feel what it's like [to be in a wheelchair]. I worked my way from walkers, to canes, the crutches, to being back to 120 percent,” Santacroce said. “Now I can really appreciate what it's like to be in a chair, and I know there is nothing so liberating as getting out of the chair and back in the air.”

Superfly has a special chair made for people with spinal or leg injuries. They fly out of the Steep Mountain Flight Park near the Point of the Mountain.