POSTED: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 3:43pm
UPDATED: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 3:45pm
CNN — It was a moment that left his classmates in shock.
In Burke, Virginia,Wednesday, a graduating senior unexpectedly got out of his wheelchair and walked across stage to receive his diploma.
Nick Balenger was his high school's star pitcher before he was paralyzed last summer in Hawaii after diving into shallow water.
Balenger said the long, hard road to this moment was worth it.
"Ever since I first went back to school I said my goal was to be on the stage walking across and going down the steps," said Balenger. "It feels great to finally accomplish it."
Balenger went on to say he was too focused on his feet to notice the standing ovation he got, but he said the sound of the cheering crowd almost blew him over.