Life Without Boundaries: Bradshaw Defies the Odds

Kincaid Bradshaw

At 18 months old, Kincaid Bradshaw’s parents noticed something was wrong.

“When he’d walk, his right heel never touched the ground,” Kincaid’s mother Jennifer said. “He was always up on his right toes, so we decided to have the doctor check him out.”

Before his second birthday, Kincaid was diagnosed with spastic hemiplegia — a type of cerebral palsy that affects the entire right side of his body.

“The doctors guessed he had a stroke in utero,” Jennifer explained. “When they first told us, our hearts dropped. As his parents, it was very emotional. We had no idea how limited his abilities would be. Thankfully he has a personality that won’t let anyone tell him what he can and can’t do.”

In kindergarten, Kincaid had his first heel chord lengthening surgery. It was a procedure he was told to expect multiple times throughout his life. Remarkably, Kincaid’s second surgery didn’t come until seven years later — a feat both his family and his doctors attribute to figure skating.

“His dad and I don’t have any skating background, but his brothers all play hockey,” Jennifer said. “Kincaid wanted to be out there with them. For some reason, he found the hockey blades harder to control. He learned how to figure skate, and I promise he’s been smiling ever since.”

Hypertonic cerebral palsy is marked by heightened muscle tension, rigidity and stiffness — in Kincaid’s case, throughout the right side of his body. While skating boots slightly elevate his heels, his parents saw skating as a way to mobilize his joints, stretch his leg and lengthen his muscles. At first, learning to skate seemed daunting — even to Kincaid.

“I saw the edges and the knee bend you needed to skate and I didn’t think I could do it because of my limited foot mobility,” Kincaid said. “But sometimes you just have to try it. You have to show everyone you can be just like anyone else.”

Not wanting to leave the competitive aspect of hockey to his brothers, Kincaid entered his first skating competition at 8 years old, just a year after he first took the ice. Four years later, he won silver at the Fort Collins Figure Skating Club’s Southwestern Nine-States Championships in a field of able-bodied competitors. At 13, he landed an Axel. It’s a figure skating jump that requires a forward takeoff, 1 ½ revolutions in the air, and a one-foot, backward landing on the opposite foot.

“That’s just his personality,” Jennifer said. “When he was little, he couldn’t do some projects at school because he couldn’t use scissors. Instead of giving up or being sad, he came home and he practiced. He practiced until he could use scissors just fine.”

Now 13, Kincaid is training to take his pre-juvenile free skate test. He skates singles, pairs and Theatre On Ice. Although his second heel chord lengthening surgery was a small setback last year, both Kincaid and his mom agree he came back to the ice even stronger.

“I have no doubt that he wouldn’t be where he is physically and developmentally without skating,” Jennifer said. “When he was 3 or 4 years old, he was six months to a year behind developmentally. I look at where he is and what he’s doing now and I’m so proud of him. We owe that to skating. It’s what he lives and breathes.”

“I can’t describe the rush of being out there,” Kincaid said. “Skating, competing and seeing what I can do is so much fun. I love it more than anything.”

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