DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Seabreeze High School’s class of 2019 graduation started with a standing ovation Friday, as a classmate who had spent years in a wheelchair stood up and walked across the stage to accept his diploma.
Michael Blavis said that walk was a goal six years in the making.
"It just feels good, you know? Throughout years and years I only dreamt about this, you know?" said Blavis.
Blavis’s mom Lynette Johnson said his rough road began when he was just 12. He was feeling nauseous, losing his appetite and experiencing frequent double vision.
At first Johnson said doctor dismissed it as trouble adjusting to their move to Florida, but a second opinion proved cruicial.
"They did that test where they go like this,” Johnson said moving her finger back and forth, “and it almost never picks up anything, but for Michael it was critical. They found that he had a very serious brain tumor."
She said that cancer had spread into his spine requiring several surgeries, and then things just kept getting worse.
"He had another rare side-effect called cerebral mutism where the brain just shuts down,” she said.
Michael had to relearn everything from movement to speech and was confined to a wheelchair to get around.
As he began a 6 year journey into physical therapy though, Johnson said her son took new motivation into his education and began studying harder than ever.
His goal: not only to graduate, but to walk onto the stage to accept his diploma.
As the diploma presentation began in Daytona Beach’s Ocean Center Friday, Michael’s name was the first to be called. To the surprise of, likely most of the room, he stood from his chair with the help of his aide and slowly walked onto the stage; shaking hands with his principal and cracking a smile as he achieved his goal.
His entire graduating class rose to their feet and gave Michael a standing ovation.
"It felt really good,” he said.
Michael plans to attend Daytona State next year to pursue a future working with computers; no quit in sight.