My name is Dan Mancina, I am from Michigan outside of Detroit. I was born with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a disease that has deteriorated my vision throughout my life. I have lost about 95 percent of my vision so far.
I have been skating since I was about seven years old and am now 31. When I had lost the majority of my functional vision about six years ago, I stopped skating all together, and would not even leave my house without a human guide. I felt very lost and confused about my identity and what I would pursue in life.
With some training with my cane and motivation from family and friends, I was able to become more confident in my blindness and in myself. Slowly, I learned to continue to chase the things I loved in life.
I used to think I had to revolve my life around my blindness – I changed my school and hobbies around what I thought a blind person could do. I eventually learned that unless I searched for what I wanted out of life, I would not feel fulfilled.
Skateboarding is the greatest feeling in the world – with it I am able to show others who I am in the way I want to be seen. Not as helpless or someone to have pity or sorrow for, but rather someone who is able-bodied and happy.
I now use my skating and social media following to express my love of skating and living a life doing the things I love.
Through my foundation, I am creating a skate park designed for blind and low vision skaters. I want to introduce more visually impaired people to the world of skateboarding.
I know that we all do not want to be a part of traditional sports, and skating has a amazing quality of independence. There is no right or wrong way to skate, there is no coach to tell you how it is supposed to be done – it is all up to the individual. It is one of the best forms of self expression.
This is a video of Dan at his local skate park in Michigan – first rolling up to a rail that goes across flat and then kinks down a ramp. Dan finds the rail with his white cane, touching it on the side and than lifting his cane to the other side to Ollie onto the rail and grind it across and down. Once he lands, you can hear the relief in his voice.
Photo credit for main image: Jacob Lewkow