Why is Madison Cawthorn in a wheelchair?

IN 2020, congressman Madison Cawthorn became one of the youngest people ever elected at the age of just 25.

The Republican, who recently announced his divorce with his wife of less than a year, has been accused of lying about the crash that left him paralyzed in 2004. Here is what we know about the accident, his disability and his political career. 

Why is Madison Cawthorn in a wheelchair?

Madison Cawthron has required the use of a wheelchair since a life changing car accident at the age of 18.

But, it has not stopped him from climbing the political ladder – after he claimed that his wheelchair became an inspiration.

During a speech at the Republican National Convention he said: “At 20, I thought about giving up. However, I knew I could still make a difference.

"My accident gave me new eyes to see, and new ears to hear.”

His speech came as the then 25-year-old was elected into Congress – becoming the youngest member since Jed Johnson Jr in the 1990s.

He is currently serving as the US Representative for North Carolina's 11th congressional district.

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When was Madison Cawthorn's car accident?

In 2014, Cawthorn was injured while returning from a spring-break trip from Florida.

He was riding as a passenger in a BMW X3 SUV near Daytona Beach, Florida, when his friend Bradley Ledford fell asleep behind the wheel.

The SUV crashed into a concrete barrier while Cawthorn's feet were on the dashboard.

In a 2017 speech, Cawthorn said that Ledford left him "to die in a fiery tomb," however, Ledford publicly disputed this in 2021 saying that he pulled Cawthorn from the wreck once he escaped the car.

In their depositions, Cawthorn stated that he had "no memory from the accident," while Ledford said that he had helped rescue an unconscious Cawthorn.

Is Madison Cawthorn paralyzed?

The injuries from the accident in 2014 left Cawthorn partially paralyzed from the waist down.

However, he has does have some limited use of his legs and has since been pictured standing – including at his wedding to Cristina Bayardelle on April 3, 2021.

But most notably, Cawthon stood up out of his wheelchair during a speech at the Republican National Convention in August 2020.

Assisted by a walking frame and the aide of two others he said: “Be radical for our republic, for which I stand.”

Although some dubbed it an inspirational, others felt Madison Cawthornwas employing a direct political move against those who choose to sit down during the pledge of allegiance as a form of protest, such as athletes who sit out games.

At the time, Washington Week anchor Yamiche Alcindor tweeted: “Madison Cawthorn made it a point to stand, suggesting that all Americans to should stand during the pledge of allegiance & national anthem.

“It was a direct rebuke of actions by ppl — including black athletes who are currently sitting out games — protesting police brutality.”

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