ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Justin Beauchesne will never forget the first time he rode a skateboard.
“It felt like freedom,” the triple amputee said, taking a break from tearing up the skate park at St. Pete’s Campbell Park.
“Man, it was awesome, so much better than I ever expected,” he said.
When Justin 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 Justin 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 laughing. “But being able to get on a piece of wood, and just feel that freedom, was euphoric.”
Now 31, Justin will make an appearance at this weekend’s X Games, which air on ABC and ESPN.
But skateboarding is really just a way for Justin 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,” he said. “And now that I’m older, I don’t want to stop.”