Why is Madison Cawthorn in a wheelchair? The 2020 US election confirmed him as the youngest person ever elected to Congress and, after his highly publicised moment of standing up from his wheelchair for the pledge of allegiance, people are wondering what Cawthorn’s disability is.

The 25-year-old Republican took AOC’s title of the youngest person in Congress when he was elected as the representative of North Carolina in 2020. However, that’s not the only thing about him that has people talking.

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Photo Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images

Why is Madison Cawthorn in a wheelchair?

Cawthorn is in a wheelchair after being paralysed from the waist down in 2014 at the age of 18 following a car accident. The accident occurred in Florida when a car he was a passenger in hit a concrete pylon, The Sun reports.

In a speech at the Republican National Convention, Cawthorn talked openly about how the accident affected him. 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.

“At 20, I made a choice. In 2020, our country has a choice. We can give up on the American idea or we can work together to make our imperfect union more perfect.”

On 27 February 2021, however, the Washington Post claimed there was more to the story of Cawthorn’s accident than meets the eye.

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In his 2020 account of the crash, the young politician claimed his friend Bradley Ledford, who was driving, left him to die “in a fiery tomb”. Cawthorn also maintained he was “declared dead” after the accident.

However, the police report of the crash noted Cawthorn had been “incapacitated”. Ledford also claimed he had pulled Cawthorn out of the wreckage as soon as he could.

“It hurt very badly that he would say something as false as that,” Ledford told the Washington Post.

He went on to claim Cawthorn’s account of the crash was “not at all what happened”. He added: “I pulled (Cawthorn) out of the car the second I was able to get out of the car.”

That time he stood up out of his wheelchair

At the same Republican National Convention, Madison Cawthorn stood up out of his wheelchair during his speech.

Although many dubbed it inspirational, some critics felt it presented having a disability as something to overcome rather than something that is ok to have.

Others felt the gesture contradicted athletes who chose to kneel during the pledge of allegiance or national anthem as a form of protest.

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