137: Dan Mancina/Insighted

Dan Mancina. Photo: Jeremy Fokkens

“I’m showcasing the life I’m living. My blindness is only a backdrop”

Sight loss is one of those primal fears we in common. It’s something everybody has pondered at some point, the type of ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ scenario we tend to shy away from because we don’t really want to know what our potential reaction might reveal about our own character.

It’s why Dan Mancina’s story is so powerful and inspirational. Dan is a skateboarder who is, as he puts it, ‘blind and changing how people see’. He was born with a hereditary degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa which began to affect his vision in his early twenties, and eventually led to total sight loss.

Photo: Jeremy Fokkens

Obviously, this was a huge physical and emotional blow to Dan. This story of what happened next, as Dan learned to overcome his blindness and reclaim his identity as a skateboarder, is rightly celebrated as one of the most joyous and humbling in skateboarding.

So one level, this is a story about how Dan overcame his physical condition, and learned to live with his sight loss. But it’s also a story of personal identity, and the strength it takes to not let yourself be defined by the physical changes that come from diagnosis of illness and disease.

In this way, it takes its place alongside my recent episode with Tim Baker, which covered similar ground with equally emotional honesty.

I’m really grateful to Dan for trusting me with this one, and for being so honest about how his life as a blind skater. Hope you find the episode as inspirational as I did.

Connect With Dan

Show Notes

  • “I’m all about the winter”
  • How snowboarding led to skating.
  • The influential videos that inspired Dan: Chomp on This, In Bloom, Silence is Golden
  • “It was always the dream to skate professionally”
  • Learning to navigate the industry
  • First job at ZJ Boarding House
  • Early industry experiences at ASR.
  • Becoming a Dad, and how skating took a back seat.
  • The initial onset of sight loss.
  • Understanding ‘…what I can do as a blind person’
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa
  • Coping with the initial diagnosis and transition to life as an unsighted person.
  • The importance of being in an environment that understands blindness and being treated normally
  • Empowerment through training at Leader Dogs for the Blind
  • Shifting perspective and not buying into people’s stereotypes about blindness
  • Using Instagram to change the perceptions of blindness by showing ‘blind people doing normal things’.
  • Early Jenkem interview 
  • Filming a full part and finding a new crew.
  • Falling back in love with skating
  • Dan’s Super Shoes part
  • Getting on Real Skateboards
  • Actions Realized and the raised braille board
  • The dream of building an accessible skatepark
  • The importance of identifying as a skateboarder
  • How Dan ‘maps’ a spot while skating.
  • Dan’s first fully blind part. 
  • How Dan’s skating has evolved with his sight loss.
  • Friends Justin Bishop and Nick Mullens
  • “I’m showcasing the life I’m living. My blindness is only a backdrop”
  • Getting a Masters in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy to help others regain independence
  • Dan’s Insighted Podcast
  • The stigma of being blind
  • Fighting for rights for the disabled
  • Being treated differently
  • The need for more blind role-models

People Mentioned

  • Tony Trujillo
  • Jamie Thomas
  • Kerry Getz
  • Jim Thiebaud
  • Paul Shier
  • Steve
  • Randy
  • Corey
  • Justin Bishop
  • Nick Mullens
  • Erik Weihnmayer

Places Mentioned

  • Los Angeles
  • California
  • Michigan
  • Detroit
  • Livonia
  • Santa Monica
  • San Diego
  • Santa Barbara

Brands/Companies Mentioned