split image of Dan Mancina grinding on a rail and of Mancina holding his Guinness World Records certificate

A Royal Oak, Michigan, USA, skateboarder is challenging our perceptions of what’s possible for the visually impaired. 

On 15 January 2022, legendary blind skateboarder Daniel Mancina showed the world there isn’t an obstacle he can’t tackle when he claimed the record title for the longest 50-50 grind on a skateboard (IS2), sliding a remarkable 6.85 m (22 ft 5 in).


Although the 35-year-old pro skater is globally recognised as the “Blind Skateboarder,” there was once a time where he was just a skateboarder. 

Growing up in the suburbs of Michigan, Mancina would snowboard as a young boy during the winter seasons. 

After reading in a magazine that skateboarding was a good way to work on his snowboarding techniques during the summer, Mancina, who was only 13 at the time, found himself investing more time in his skateboard.

Never having tried his hand at the sport before and not knowing what it truly meant to be a skater, he would simply roll the skateboard around. 

It wasn’t until he moved to a different neighbourhood during his middle school years and met a group of skaters that Mancina began to truly appreciate skating.

“I met a group of friends who skated and who are all still my friends to this day,” said Mancina. 

“That’s when I fell in love with skating, and it took over my life.” 

However, at just thirteen-years-old, Mancina was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa during a routine optometry exam. 


Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare genetic eye disease that affects the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye and often leads to legal and complete blindness.

Mancina tried not to let the diagnosis affect his childhood, but the degenerative disease eventually began to take his vision from him.

Although its progression was gradual at first, he rapidly lost the vision in his left eye over the course of just a year and a half.

Thinking his time as a skateboarder had inevitably come to an end, his fervour for skating began to dwindle and years went by before Mancina dared to step foot on a skateboard again.

Mancina took some time to deal with personal matters and his deteriorating eyesight, placing his beloved sport on hold.

A few years later, as he reflected on the passion he once felt for skateboarding, he decided to build a small bench in an attempt to film himself performing a front board. 

The video was shared by the Tony Hawk Foundation, now known as The Skatepark Project.

It was that very moment that reignited Mancina’s ardour for skating, motivating him to get back out into the streets and challenge himself to skateboard despite not being able to see. 

Instead of trying to skate the way he once could, Mancina was forced to accept that he would no longer be able to skate rails or atypical obstacles and had to be more selective of what he could realistically face. 

Mancina transformed his disability into quite an impressive ability by creating a new skateboarding process, which involved walking through the areas he would be skating and using his cane to feel everything. 

“I rely on my white cane the most, using it to scan my environment and to find obstacles while skating,” said Mancina.

“Being a blind skater, I have to take my time to feel obstacles and have a good understanding of them before I start skating.” 

Before completely losing his sight, Mancina still had a sliver of vision in his peripheral and would use lights at night to guide himself.


He also used shadows to his advantage, which allowed him to see a contrast between light and dark.

But as Mancina lost the rest of his eyesight, he found himself further adapting his process by performing basic tricks like standing next to a ledge and ollieing onto it as he steadily warmed up to it. 

Over the years, he has also learned to rely on his other senses to determine what trick feels right for a particular spot and what he believes would look cool. 

“My favourite trick changes all the time,” said Mancina. 

“I get obsessed with a trick for a while and then kind of move on to new ones. I really love skating flat bars the most though.”

Mancina has also realised he can use some of the most commonplace objects as guides.

Trash cans, pillars, and even cracks on the ground provide a starting point or help Mancina orient himself. 

Contrary to popular belief, the celebrated skater admits that he doesn’t focus his time on training as a professional skateboarder, but on being consistent and having fun instead.


“I like having the freedom to do what I love,” said Mancina. 

“Skating every day helps to keep me on point and being able to travel the world and skate new spots is the greatest.”

Mancina also believes that having his efforts recognised by some of his most admired brands has been tremendously impactful for his career.

“Getting my first box of boards from Real was a powerful thing for me,” said Mancina. 

“It helped me to believe in myself and motivated me to keep pushing myself.” 

Mancina also credits his lifelong idols for much of his success.

Jim Thiebaud from Real and Paul Shier from Adidas are two people who believed in me before I did,” said Mancina. 

“I owe my skating career to them, and they motivate me to keep pushing.”

As a child, Mancina remembers being intrigued by many of the Guinness World Records title holders he came across in the books and was naturally honoured when he was recognised for his achievement and featured in Guinness World Records 2023.


“Everyone was stoked; I hung the plaque up in the skate park where I completed the title,” said Mancina. 

“It has inspired me to keep pushing forward on my board and in life.”

Although the amazing athlete has achieved other incredible feats such as earning a master’s degree in Vision Rehab Therapy, he isn’t hitting the brakes anytime soon. 

In fact, he says there are so many things he would like to try, it feels like a never-ending pursuit.

He hopes to work towards improving on his current record title, adding that he knows he can skate an even longer rail. 

In the meantime, Mancina is working on building a fully adaptive skate park. 

“Once it’s built, I will host skating workshops for visually impaired and blind kids to introduce them to the world of skating,” said Mancina. 

“I’m also working towards having skateboarding in the Paralympics. The goal is 2028.”

Social media has also allowed Mancina to discover and connect with other adaptive riders; an experience which he describes as nothing short of amazing.


Mancina urges those interested in skateboarding to “just get out there and skate,” regardless of any obstacles they might be facing. 

“Never let others define you and what you are capable of,” he said. 

“Only you know what you are capable of, and often if you try you will surprise yourself.”