Five-year-old Blake Mompher pulled off a huge graduation surprise: Standing up in his wheelchair and walking to claim his diploma.

By Rebecca Macatee
Courtesy Megan Mompher

For Blake Mompher, graduating from preschool was a big step forward—literally. That's because the 5-year-old boy, who was born with Spina Bifida, surprised his classmates and his teachers by walking across the stage to get his diploma. Blake's mom, Megan Mompher, captured the wonderful moment on video.

In the clip, posted to a "Team Blake" Facebook page run by Blake's family, the proud graduate is smiling from ear to ear as steps onto the stage. Mom Megan told local station 10TV that Blake had been walking some in the fall, but unexpected medical complications landed him back in a wheelchair. He was determined to walk at graduation, though, and he worked with a therapist in preparation for Saturday's ceremony at Crossword United Methodist Preschool in Marion, Ohio.

As Blake's mom Megan noted, there "wasn't a dry eye in the room" when her son walked out on the stage. "My mind just back to those long months in the hospital, watching him so sick," Megan told Parents.com. "I lost it as soon as he came out on the stage walking. Never been more proud as a momma! His dad Aric too, so proud."

Megan said Blake "walked with such determination, and he was so happy to be able to do it." He was born with Spina Bifida, which is a group of neural tube defects that occur when the baby's developing spine (neural tube) fails to close properly. He's dealt with complications for his whole life, but as dad Aric told Parents.com, walking across that stage "was [Blake's] way of 'beating' Spina Bifida."

"He can be a shy little guy until you get to know him," said Blake's dad, "but I've never seen him as happy as he was that day."

Blake will continue to work with a therapist on walking, and he begins kindergarten in the fall.

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