Italo Romano has been to hell and back – but that hasn’t stopped him from skating after his dreams.
The 27-year-old from Curitiba, Brazil, was just 11-years-old when he tried to hitch a ride on a moving train in order to catch up with his friends.
He explains, ‘I then saw this train coming and thought it would be better if I grabbed it, so I would catch up with my friends faster.’
‘When the train got closer, I jumped on a ladder outside it, but ended up being caught under the wheels. The train dragged me for 10 meters.’
Horrifically, one of Italo’s legs was completely severed on the tracks and the other one was so badly crushed that doctors were forced to amputate.
Italo’s mum, Nely Fernandes Pessoa, recalls the heart-stopping moment she heard of his injuries.
She says, ‘when I arrived [at the hospital] I was still hopeful that it wasn’t true. But I found out it was true. He was in intensive care and I came to see him.’
After spending just one month recovering in hospital, Italo was discharged and given a wheelchair to use.
He explains, ‘As soon as I left, I was given a wheelchair. I liked it but after a while, because I used to be very nimble, very agile, the wheelchair made me quite limited in my daily life.’
Desperate not to lose his sense of freedom despite his disability, Italo decided to give skateboarding a try – and he’s never looked back since!
He says, ‘I went to my cousin and borrowed his skateboard. I got down from the wheelchair and to the skateboard. As soon as I moved, I felt free.’
‘It feels like skateboarding was made for me since the very first time I sat on a skateboard.’
‘I had no difficulty learning how to move around on it. It felt like I’d always done it.’
‘Skateboarding is in my blood. I can’t stay still, I have to be moving around.’
Mum Nely adds, ‘the skateboard is his wheelchair wherever he goes. He completely fell in love with it.’
‘I have my two legs, I’m normal and I complain much more than he does! He never complains.’
‘He spends so much time on the skateboard that he gets blisters and calluses on his hands. But he never complains.’
Italo’s skill in pulling off technical skateboarding moves soon caught the eye of sponsors, and before long he was being paid to compete and represent brands at a range of major events.
He says, ‘Kids come to me and ask if I’m a professional. I say, ‘yes’. They say ‘cool’ and give me high fives.’
‘It’s really nice to see these kid’s smiles when they see a professional skateboarder can be a role model for them.’
‘I’d love to go on the [Paralympics] games. If there was a Paralympic skateboarding I’m sure I would bring a medal home.’
Thanks to his love of skateboarding, Italo has gained a completely new perspective as a result of his accident and is grateful for the ways in which it has changed his life for the better – especially since he became a dad to his beloved daughter Sofia.
He says, ‘She was a bit unexpected but today she’s my treasure. Everything I do is for her.’
‘If the accident hadn’t happened, I would probably be into drugs or dead. Afterwards my life changed completely. I started to see things with different eyes.’
Watch the video above to see some of Italo’s incredible moves for yourself!