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Emotional graduation for Fairport twins
Fairport, N.Y./Rochester, N.Y. -- More than 550 students crossed the stage at the Blue Cross Arena for Fairport High School's graduation ceremony Thursday night, but only two got a standing ovation.
"This is probably going to be one of the most memorable moments of my life and it means so much to me that he can share it with me," said 17-year-old Austin Coppola.
Together, Austin and his twin brother Ty walked the stage - a moment that brought the crowd to its feet and tears to the eyes to just about everyone in the audience.
"Nothing means more to me than him walking the stage today; I'm very excited to hear his name called." When Austin stepped up to the stage and even after his name was called he was focused on Ty and as he has done so often, he guided and comforted Ty - encouraging him to keep going.
Hand in hand, together they crossed the stage, an emotional moment everyone there. "To have the support of not only family and friends but the support of the while graduating class that's something special."
Born just seconds apart, Austin and Ty came into this world together, but for the last 17 years the twin boys have faced very different obstacles. Diagnosed with Down's syndrome, Ty was still learning to stand when Austin was walking. They've progressed at different rates but for this milestone, Austin told his parents he would not accept his diploma alone.
Cheryl Coppola says Austin told her "Mom, Ty has worked harder than me, he has endured more challenges. Yeah, I've earned it, I worked hard, but he has worked hard in a different way." At first, Coppola said she hesitated to contact the school to ask if Ty could walk because she wanted Austin to have his own moment in the spotlight but he put up a fight.
Proud of all that the two boys have accomplished, the Coppola family celebrated Ty's perseverance and Austin's compassion. "He is just a great kid and we are very proud of him," Coppola said as she started to cry. "It is a day that you always look forward to and you always dream of, and now that day is here and we are very excited they get to share it."