The 2020 Kingfisher graduation was always bound to be a big deal for the Wittrock family.
Jeff and Heather Wittrock have triplets who graduated this year.
“I have 19-year-old triplets that graduated this year. We had two valedictorians in the group, and all three of them were National Honor Society. So, we got really luck with some kids that are really smart,” Jeff said.
Hunter Wittrock, the youngest of the triplets, wanted to make graduation even more memorable.
“Once he sets his mind to something it’s going to happen,” Jeff said of his son.
Hunter has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
“About the beginning of this school year, Mr. Hunter told me that he was going to walk across the stage, and so we set some goals,” Erin Scammahorn, manager of physical medicine at Mercy at Kingfisher said.
Not only did Hunter want to walk across the stage to accept his diploma, he wanted to keep it a secret from his classmates.
Hunter, his immediate family, Scammahorn and another therapist began training.
“That was the biggest struggle was thinking OK every night he’s going to have to fit it into his busy schedule already. But if he was game, we were game,” Scammahorn said.
After multiple back surgeries in recent years, an hour of training each day wasn’t always easy for Hunter.
“It was pretty intense, but he wouldn’t stop. He kept going he didn’t want to stop,” Heather said.
However, fate almost stopped Hunter.
With the pandemic looming, Kingfisher High School officials had to consider canceling the traditional graduation ceremony altogether.
“We have one graduation because of the triplets, that’s all we have, and we were going to get that moment taken away. I thought, ‘we cannot do this. He had worked for this.’ Then, two weeks ago, graduation’s back on,” Jeff said.
The Kingfisher graduation ceremony was moved outside, with social distancing precautions.
Before his name was called, Hunter secretly moved from his chair to his walker, and walked across the stage.
The moment was a complete surprise for Hunter’s classmates and grandparents.
“It’s indescribable. You can’t put words to it. It’s too much,” Jeff said.
Hunter’s classmates and loved ones cheered throughout the walk, and Hunter stayed determined.
The graduate said he kept his eyes on a tree as a focal point.
Still focused, Hunter is preparing to start college in the fall, once again without any doubts that hard work pays off.