There is a beautiful thing happening in San, Diego California right now and it’s not the beaches or the beautiful weather. It’s the good vibes Robert Thompkins is putting out, a paraplegic chairskater who’s sharing his passion for his emerging sport in an amazing way.
Why he’s fearless
A San Diego kid through and through, Robert is a certifiable California boy. Growing up, he was all about skateboarding. He admits he may have not been very good, but he had his bag of impressive tricks and he loved hanging out with his friends while doing it.
So when Robert found himself a paraplegic after a cannonball dive gone wrong in 2005, he was incredibly saddened over the loss of skateboarding in his life. A huge chunk of who he was could no longer exist, which is something many people with spinal cord injuries can relate to. “My injury did save my life in many ways though,” he does admit, who was on the wrong road at the time of his injury.
And thanks to his younger brother, his loss was turned into a life-changing discovery. He introduced Robert to chairskating, using one’s wheelchair to do skateboard-like tricks, and he was hooked. But the time was nearly 10 years ago, and chairskating wasn’t popular yet. He searched far and wide until he discovered chairskating phenom (and past SCI Superstar) Aaron Fotheringham, who showed him the ropes.
When he began chairskating, to used his rigid manual wheelchair since no chairskating wheelchairs had yet to exist, and Robert eventually made his own specialized chairskating wheelchair. While he never went on to compete in X Games (yet) or any WCMX-related competitions, what Robert is doing with his chairskating it is even more impressive.
In 2012, after meeting a family with Angelo Sanchez, their little boy with paraplegia, at a chairskating event put on by Life Rolls On, Robert’s life was changed. He saw how he could introduce chairskating to little kids and knew it was an important mission he should take up.
He decided to partner with the Sanchez family to found a nonprofit called Looking Beyond the Wheels, which brings chairskating to local skate parks all around San Diego. They put on demonstrations, hoping to introduce kids with disabilities to the sport.
Robert is a big believer in making your life into whenever you want, making insanely tasty lemonade from lemons, and we love him for it. “Life is what you make it,” he likes to says. “And always push yourself until it’s over.” Sage advice from Mr. California cool.
Would you dare try chairskating if you had a chairskating chair?
– Visit his nonprofit: Looking Behind the Wheels
– Follow him on Instagram: that615chair_man
Watch the videos!