Burlington man inspires others as he learns to walk again for special occasion

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Literally taking things one step at a time, Skip Degraffenreidt is determined to walk on his own again.

"This is going to be it, and I'm coming back,”  Degraffenreidt said.

In 2000, Degraffenreidt was badly injured in a car wreck.  Since then, he's had trouble balancing and has used a walker since 2003.  Degraffenreidt said, "I didn't think I would ever be able to walk again."

Degraffenreidt’s long-term goal is to surprise his wife's God-daughter on her wedding day.  His wife, Thelma Degraffenreidt explained, “She (his God-daughter) said, 'Skip I want you to get off that walker. I want you to give me away at my wedding.'"

The dream of doing just that is what motivated Degraffenreidt to start working with a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Burlington.

“What I tell Skip is: Let's control what we can control. There's a lot of stuff that we can't control. We work within our boundaries,” said Steven Meyer, who trains Degraffenreidt at Gold’s Gym.

Degraffenreidt started training four months ago, three days a week, for 30 minutes a day. He has lost 30 pounds and can now proudly take some steps without his walker.

Degraffenreidt’s spirit is also inspiring the people at Gold’s Gym who are witnessing his transformation.

Gold’s Gym manager, Teddy Braden, said Degraffenreidt's determination gives a lot of people hope.

"You see somebody like Skip who came in and could hardly walk and now he's 100 percent from where he was before, if not 300 percent," he said. "A lot of people that we see that are really impressed just with what he's able to do.”

Degraffenreidt said, "They look at me now like I'm a celebrity.  I guess everybody is rooting for me.”

Degraffenreidt’s next step is to use a cane, but the hope is to walk without it long before the wedding next June.

“He said he's going to start off with his walker and when he gets ready to escort her he's going to push it to the side, and she's just going to ball," Thelma Degraffenreidt said.  "She gave him that determination that he really needed to do this.”

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