ROXBURY, NJ – Thanks to a Roxbury Township official and his high-flying son, a Succasunna boy with spina bifida saw last weekend that being unable to walk doesn't mean a person can't soar.
Roxbury Construction Official Rod Schmidt and his son - "Nitro Circus" daredevil Brandon Schmidt- pulled a few strings and helped 4-year-old Levi Spencer get a trip to a Pennsylvania action sports training center. There, Spencer spent a few hours with wheelchair motocross star Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, a "Nitro Circus" performer who flies his chair off monstrous ramps, does flips in the air, slides down rails and otherwise demonstrates that limits are mainly in our minds.
Schmidt said he got the idea while talking with Andrew Scerbo, the producer of "George to the Rescue," a television show doing work on renovating Spencer’s home to make it more wheelchair friendly.
“When I started talking to Andrew via email … I asked if he’s done any work on Nitro Circus where my son is an athlete,” Schmidt said. “He had not, but I also said Brandon rides with this guy Aaron “Wheelz” Fortheringham, who also has spina bifida, which is what Levi has.”
That news sparked Scerbo's interest, said Schmidt. He said he helped Scerbo get in contact with Fortheringham and a deal was made. On March 3 the Spencer family went to the training center, Camp Woodward in Woodward, Pa., spent the night and met with Wheelz the next morning, said Levi’s mother, Jillian Spencer.
She said "George to the Rescue" cameras filmed Levi’s visit and will use it to show what the Spencer family did while they were not allowed to stay in their home during the renovation, scheduled to be finished next week. “Levi got about three hours of playing at the skate park and filming with the "George to the Rescue" team,” she said. “Levi had a blast.”
She said the Spencers have been fans of Fortheringham for a long time and often show Levi videos of Wheelz in action. “It’s cool to have a role-model to look up to,” she said. “Levi was excited to see somebody also in a wheelchair … Aaron showed off some of his tricks. They gave Levi a helmet and some pads and we pushed him up and down the ramps. Aaron was sort of coaching him along.”
Spencer joked that, once the bathroom in her house is finished by the "George to the Rescue" team, it might be time to start thinking about half-pipes and other wheelchair motocross installations in their yard.
That, after all, is how Brandon Schmidt got his start, said his dad. "We had a big half-pipe in the backyard," said Rod Schmidt. "I built Brandon many ramps over the past years. "
The Schmidts live in Stockholm, but Brandon is known around Roxbury not only for his "Nitro Circus" fame but also because he videotaped Roxbury High School's first "Every 15 Minutes" production as well as a "video resume" for Roxbury Fire Official Mike Pellek's fire detection dog Bunker, said Schmidt.