By Janet Tappin Coelho
A proud dad left his daughter with wonderful memories of her graduation day by just turning up to walk by her side.
The remarkable moment of 79-year-old Alexandre José da Silva using his hands to propel himself down the aisle having lost the use of both his legs years ago, was captured on film.
The emotional scene was greeted with exuberant applause as the audience gave the family a standing ovation, and cheered, screamed, and honked vuvuzelas as they watched Mr da Silva’s efforts.
His daughter, Rosany Caetano, 30, graduated with a law degree from Piaui State University in north east Brazil, in April this year, but the video of Mr da Silva’s inspiring entrance was only released last week. It has since been shared more than 100,000 times.
The footage shows Rosany, dressed in her graduation gown, holding her 68-year-old mum, Maria’s, hand as her dad uses a block of wood in his left hand and small stick in his right to keep pace with the pair by pushing his make-shift crutches into the ground and swinging his body forward.
The farmer, who has been unable to walk since the age of 15 following spinal problems that went undiagnosed before the damage became irreversible, expressed surprise at the massive welcome saying he ‘didn’t know what all the fuss was about as this was normally how he got around.”
However, he added the family, who come from a humble background, were overwhelmed by the immense support.
The pensioner, whose atrophied legs are bent backwards at the knees leaving him in a permanently crouched position, said: “I’ve only ever wanted good things for my daughter and this was a dream come true.
“I am so proud of her because she has achieved more than we ever expected. It was so good to see everyone praising and congratulating her on the day and I would not have missed it for the world.”
Rosany is the first person in the family, who live on a small farm in Landri Sales, north east Brazil, to go to university and get a degree.
The tearful graduate said: “It was a wonderful experience to have my parents with me at my graduation ceremony. It was very emotional because I’ve dreamed about making them so proud of me for so long. They have been my inspiration throughout my five years of studying.
“I had to live away from home and work part-time doing all sorts of jobs from cleaning to waitressing to support myself through the course.
“My parents helped where they could but what they lacked in money they more than made up with love, encouragement and the amazing example of how they’ve led their lives.
“They instilled in me a determination to succeed and a fighting spirit that refuses to give up.
“My dad has never one day complained about his condition. He has always been a positive and inspirational figure.
“He is my hero because despite facing many challenges, he has never once thought about quitting but has always worked hard on the farm and provided for us.
“He is an upbeat and unselfish person who doesn’t see himself as deficient or helpless because he has overcome so much.”
Ms Caetano revealed it was love at first sight for her parents who had 11 children together of which only three survived.
The devoted daughter, who has trained to be a judge, vowed to ‘give back’ to her mum and dad by improving their lives.
She said: “My dream is to buy an electric wheelchair for my dad. He has always walked this way and can still stand and balance well but he’s getting increasingly tired and needs the rest.
“My parents are now suffering from a few health problems and I’ll be working really hard to make sure they have all the medication and support they need to make their lives better.”