The story behind viral video of dad in wheelchair dancing with daughter onstage

Charles Potter was able to participate in a recent father-daughter dance event.

The story behind viral video of dad in wheelchair dancing with daughter onstage
Courtesy Rhonda Conrad
June 25, 2023, 4:07 AM

It's been over 15 years since Charles Potter was hit by a drunk driver in Winchester, Virginia, and sustained an injury that left him in a wheelchair.

The 2006 accident didn't stop him from continuing his life with a positive attitude and serving his family as a devoted dad and husband.

His commitment as a father was captured in a recent viral video on TikTok, which featured Potter dancing with his 6-year-old daughter Charlize onstage at a school event.

"They learned their dance 4 days before performing… few tweaks to accommodate her daddy," Potter's wife Rhonda Conrad wrote in the caption of the December post.

"Don’t drink & drive!!" she added, referring to the accident that left Potter injured nearly two decades earlier.

The video has since garnered more than 13 million views and been "liked" more than 2 million times.

Charles Potter and his daughter Charlize Potter are seen here in an undated file photo.
Courtesy Rhonda Conrad

"We've done a few of those dances," Potter told "Good Morning America," noting that they take place "every few months," and that the duo would be performing together again in May.

Despite having limited movement capabilities, Potter said he did not hesitate to fulfill his daughter's request to attend the father-daughter event.

"My youngest is doing ... a dance hip-hop chair class. And they had these daddy daughter dances and she asked if I was up to, you know, doing them with [her]," he explained. "I was like, 'If you want to. Yeah, absolutely. We'll make it work.'"

Charles Potter, Rhonda Conrad and their daughter Charlize Potter are seen here in an undated file photo.
Courtesy Denise Potter

Conrad said her husband and daughter worked together after the school sent them a tutorial video for the routine.

"They get like, two or three weeks to learn the dance on their own," she said, adding, "They don't have anyone teaching them. It's all done in the living room."

Conrad noted that the two had to figure out work-arounds for certain moves that other father-daughter pairs would be performing.

"There's always something that they have to accommodate," she said.

Potter's accident occurred years before Charlize was born, but Potter said his daughter is "inquisitive" and aware of his physical condition.

"She's always questioning, she wants to know things," he said. "But she just knows her dad is in a wheelchair from being hit by a drunk driver. Pretty much. That's it. And she knows I'm limited to doing certain things and whatnot. And she just kind of goes with the flow."

Conrad added that their daughter also "talks about her dad all the time" to her peers in school.

Potter said it took him a while to recover from the accident, a process he described as "super intense."

"When the accident happened when I woke up, I couldn't move anything from my head down. I couldn't really move my head, I had to be turned in the bed, stuff like that," he said. "I had to relearn how to do everything from crawling, eating, like I had to relearn everything."

Charles Potter and his daughter Charlize Potter are seen here in an undated file photo.
Courtesy Rhonda Conrad

Potter said he kept his head up through the challenges he endured and never lost his faith, believing that "everything happens for a reason."

"[It] kind of helped me keep a smile on my face, keep a positive attitude. I'm still here, it could be worse. It could have been worse. So I can't complain too much," he added.

As for the December video with his daughter, Potter said he was surprised when it blew up on TikTok.

"We've shared the [performances] that happened before this one, but [they] never got this much exposure," he said. "[...] We woke up the next day, and we got, like, famous people sharing it. People posting it on their stories. And it just took off."

He added that he had received "tons and tons of positive messages" about the video.

"Some kind of sad ones too, because people [were saying] like, 'My dad wasn't there for me,' like stuff like that. So there were some sad ones," he said. "The negative people are in the comments as well, but [there were] way more positive than negative for sure."

Conrad told "GMA" she and her family practice affirmations in their daily routine to maintain their own positive outlook on life.

"We do affirmations every day ... 'You are strong, you are brave, you are kind,' just those types of things," she said.

She added, "I've always been a pretty positive person ... If you have a bad day, that's OK, but it's just a bad day. It's not a bad life. We'll get through this."

The experiences Potter has encountered have given him wisdom to live by, which he shared with anyone else going through tough times.

"No matter what situation you're in today, just put one foot in front of the other and get through it -- because whatever situation you're in today, it's not going to last," he said.

"They say God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. So, no matter what, he's not gonna put you through nothing that you can't get through.... Just never give up. Keep your head up. Keep rolling, keep stepping. Things will get better for sure."

Editor's note: This was originally published on April 18, 2023