By Alex Matthews
This skater showed the way to get back on board – by picking up the sport he loved after he went blind!
Fealess Daniel Mancina uses his stick and a beeping device placed under obstacles to allow him to skate.
Even though he cannot see, he still performs tricks such as jumps and grinds and he rides with his friends at high speeds.
Daniel claims taking up the sport helped he to fight the deep depression he fell into when a degenerative disease rapidly robbed him of his sight when he was 22.
The Michigan native, now 29, said: “It was amazing to go back to skateboarding again. I wasn’t nervous at all.
“Skateboarding was my passion in life and I thought that being blind would make that impossible forever.
“But after I almost completely lost my sight and moved back home from California I went into a deep depression. I thought I had completely lost my life.
“It took a while for me start doing the things I wanted to do again and getting my life back on track.
“Skating was a huge part of that, and now I’d love to travel the world and go bull-riding, wake boarding, and skydiving.
“I’d also like people to know that going blind doesn’t mean your life has to end. You can still follow your dreams.”
Daniel took up skating when he was 11-years-old, and has been in love with the sport ever since.
Shortly afterwards, he was diagnosed with the hereditary degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, which slowly deteriorates vision from the outside in.
For years, Daniel did not let the condition stop him and he did not notice its effects.
Aged 18, he moved to Southern California to pursue skateboarding as a possible career, and worked in a skate shop.
However, at the age of 22, the disease attacked his sight aggressively and by 24 he was forced to give up work and driving.
Shortly afterwards, he moved back home to Michigan.
Daniel said: “I loved skateboarding and spent hours doing it as a teenager.
“I was really excited to move out to California and experience it there.
“I would skate to work along the beach on Santa Monica and it was pretty great.
“Retinitis pigmentosa is completely different for everybody, and I was diagnosed when I was 13.
“I never really worried about it and it wasn’t too bad.
“But when I turned 24 I couldn’t drive anymore and that was a huge change. It’s hard to get by in California without a car.
“That was when the condition rapidly progressed and I was left with just five per cent in my peripheral vision.
“It was really tough to live with, and I had to move back home. I had fallen out of love with the skating scene at that point too.
“I wasn’t sure what I could do after that, and it was tough being blind to begin with.”
“I was definitely depressed.”
However, Daniel was determined not to let the condition get the better of him. After a while sitting at home, he decided to go back to college to study psychology.
He also started an Instagram account where he posted photos of himself doing activities that people would not expect blind people to do.
It began with fishing and visiting a shooting range, before Daniel was inspired to get back on his skateboard.
He eventually figured out a way of putting a device that makes sound underneath a bench so he could still perform tricks.
He hopes his experience in turning his life around will inspire others to do the same.
He said: “It’s intimidating each time I get back on my board as I’m really not sure what I’m capable of.
“But that’s what makes it more fun. I completely fell in love with skating again.
“It’s really amazing to have that feeling back.
“With all the things I’m doing now I have no idea what the future holds, but by getting out there and taking on projects I feel so much better.
“It’s changed the way I feel about myself and it’s changed the way my friends see me.
“Before I used to be scared to leave the house, but now I genuinely look forward to every day.”
Daniel is currently fundraising for future projects to help the blind to see his work click here.
His Instagram account can be found here.