ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Justin Beauchesne will never forget the first time he rode a skateboard.
“It felt like freedom,” the triple amputee said. “Man, it was awesome, so much better than I ever expected,” he said.
When Beauchesne was just 18 months old, he lost both arms and part of a leg to meningitis.
“For so long, doctors and nurses and teachers were telling me I can’t do things,” he said.
But Beauchesne has always been a fighter, an athlete who craved challenges.
When he was 12, he played Tony Hawk’s skateboarding video game. It wasn’t too long before he was trying out a real skateboard.
“My mom wasn’t happy,” he said. “But being able to get on a piece of wood, and just feel that freedom, was euphoric.”
Now 31, Beauchesne will make an appearance at this weekend’s X Games.
But skateboarding is really just a way for Beauchesne to achieve his true passion: helping others.
His nonprofit Amp-Ventures gets amputees active in such sports as surfing and paddleboarding.
“When I was six, I remember telling my aunt that I wanted to help people,” Beauchesne said. “And now that I’m older, I don’t want to stop.”
This story was originally published by Sean Daly on WFTS in Tampa, Florida.