Sam Bridgman has come a long way.

But the distance he may be proudest of were the few feet he traveled Saturday night.

With the help of friends, the University of South Florida graduate student rose from his wheelchair to walk across the stage at graduation to receive two masters' degrees from the Muma School of Business.

Bridgman, 25, has Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare neuromuscular disease that is progressive, life-shortening and causes loss of coordination from the toes to the fingertips, USF said.

He was diagnosed at age 15, and he has been confined to a wheelchair since the age of 18.

Bridgman raises funds for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance. He already has a job with the Tampa Bay Lightning.