Nick Balenger, once a star pitcher at Lake Braddock High School in Burke, Va., is used to receiving applause.

An 86-mile-per-hour flamethrower who helped his team win a state title as a junior, Nick was destined for a bright future. But his entire life changed one day last summer, when he was paralyzed after diving into shallow water in Hawaii on a family vacation.

His dreams dashed, Nick's senior year was defined by his recovery. At Homecoming, he surprised his classmates by standing with the help of two friends.

And while he has been restricted to a wheelchair for most of the year, Nick had another surprise for those attending Lake Braddock's graduation recently. He set a goal to receive his diploma, walk across the stage and then walk down the steps. And he did it.

"He sets his own personal goals," Steve Balenger, Nick's father, told WUSA9."He just works his butt off and gets it done."

(H/T to For The Win)