COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Riding a skateboard is hard enough when you’re able to see what you’re doing.
Dan Mancina does it with only five percent of his vision.
Mancina, 30, has been skateboarding since he was seven years old. But several years ago, a degenerative eye disease-retinitis pigmentosa, or RP-robbed him of 95 percent of his sight.
“I just kind of woke up one day and couldn’t really see anything out of my left eye,” Mancina said. “Same thing kind of started happening to my right eye.”
These days, Mancina can only see with his right peripheral vision, for the most part. But when he started losing his vision, he said he thought skateboarding was out of the question.
“That was part of my life that was over,” Mancina said.
But Mancina persevered. He got back on his skateboard, slowly relearning to do the things he’d always been able to do, and then eventually learning new tricks.
Now, he takes his board and his message all over, to places such as the Ohio State School for the Blind (OSSB).
Mancina met with some of the residential students there on Sunday, October 15, which is White Cane Day-a day to educate the world about blindness and celebrate the achievements of people who are visually impaired.
On Monday, the beginning of 2017 Mobility Week at OSSB, Mancina spoke to groups of students and demonstrated skateboarding tricks to them.
“It’s kind of inspirational, you know. It kind of lets us know that we as blind people can still do everything that sighted people can do,” said Alex Crawford, a senior. “It just kind of drives the point home that we can do anything everybody else can do, even if we have to adapt it and do it in a different way.”
Crawford became interested in skateboarding at age 13 or 14, after watching his brother do it. But he was told he couldn’t do it himself.
“People always told me I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have good enough vision to do it,” Crawford said. “I did not like that. So you know, I kept trying to skateboard.”
Crawford said he invested in a longboard and skateboards frequently in downtown Columbus.
“I think it kind of freaks people out when they see me with my cane in my back pocket. They get kind of scared,” Crawford said.
Mancina’s message doesn’t just apply to those who are interested in skateboarding.
Andre Cummings, a junior, said he knew nothing about skateboarding until he interviewed Mancina for a monthly podcast he does at school.
“Didn’t even know blind people could skateboard, and then he comes in and he just rocks my world,” Cummings said.
Cummings said that, prior to his vision loss, he competed in video game tournaments. Now, he’s inspired to return to his hobby.
“It makes me want to overcome anything that stands in my way,” Cummings said.
Of all Mancina’s accomplishments as a skateboarder, he said meeting new people and visiting new places are among the most meaningful.
“I just really want to show the kids that, first, not to be afraid to try things that might scare you.” Mancina said. “Getting yourself out of your comfort zone is the best way to kind of grow as a person and really kind of get a different perspective of the world and your life.”