A Brazilian man has found a way to embrace the disability of which he was once ashamed — by skateboarding.
Vinicios Sardi, who was born without legs due to a congenital malformation, used to feel a sense of embarrassment about his condition.
“I’ve always been ashamed of being exposed because of my prostheses,” Sardi said. “A huge obstacle I had in my life was being ashamed of exposing myself without my legs. I was really ashamed of accepting that.”
But, when Sardi discovered he could still skateboard, his entire life changed.
"I always liked skateboards," the 21-year-old said. "I always saw videos, magazines and photos of other skateboarders. And one day I saw on television, someone skating without their legs like me. It changed my life. I thought, ‘Well, if he can do it, why can’t I?'”
Initially, Sardi said he attempted to skateboard while wearing his prosthetics, which he was used to wearing.
"My prosthetics are simple and they’re not prepared for the sport so I ended up breaking one of them,” Sardi said. "I had no funds to buy another prosthetic so I decided to skateboard without them.”
Sardi said his passion for skateboarding surpassed any shame he felt about his condition. Sardi is now a regular at his local skate park and dreams of one day becoming a professional.
His parents were initially worried about him trying out the sport but have seen firsthand how it has changed his outlook.
“When he started skateboarding, I was a little hesitant because it is a profession that needs two legs,” said Alberto Felipe Sardi, Sardi’s dad. “I was afraid of him falling and hurting himself. But he’s shown everyone that when you want something, there’s no difficulty achieving it."
Sardi now wants to spread the message that a person is way bigger than their body.
“My biggest achievement in skateboarding was losing the shame I had and to be able to expose myself in the world as I really am,” Sardi said. “Today, I can show this image to people.”
And his ambition is supported by his proud dad.
“I hope he continues to overcome and spreads the message that a disabled person is not just that person who stays in their room somewhere, afraid of society,” Alberto Sardi said.