Tommy Carroll
Skateboarder Tommy Carroll lost his sight when he was two years old.   
A blind skateboarder may not be able to see himself perform his best tricks, but thousands of fans have watched his inspirational story thanks to a video showcasing his skills.

Tommy Carroll, an avid skateboarder and sophomore at Northwestern University, is gaining national attention for “Brave,” a video posted online last month in which he explains his unique story and swoops over the ramps at a Chicago-area skate park.

Born with cancer of the retinas, he lost his sight when he was two years old but picked up skating at the age of 10.

“I think what’s really fun about skateboarding is when you get something new and kind of scary, when you finally land that scary thing and you feel that tension release, that’s one of the better feelings,” he says, explaining it’s “one of the biggest adrenaline rushes you’ll ever experience.”

The video is part of the “Be Brave, Be Safe” campaign led by Amsterdam-based consumer safety organization VeiligheidNL in partnership with Dutch sportswear company Perry Sport, and includes Carroll talking about how important protective gear is to him as a skateboarder, since he feels comfortable enough to experiment and fall as he tests out new tricks.

Carroll, who wears prosthetic eyes, told McSweeney’s last month that he has always felt pressure to be the best in his field to make up for his lack of sight.

“I wanted to impress people,” he told the website. “Unless I was the best at the park, it was like, ‘well, you’re pretty good…for a blind kid.’ I always felt pressure to try to be the very best at any given skate park because if I was only ‘good’ people would judge me as just being great for a blind skater. I wanted to be a great skater, period.”

His hard work has paid off. Carroll has become something of an icon in the sport, and has even skated with legend Tony Hawk who sought him out after hearing about his story.

“I think everybody should know that everything happens for a reason,” Carroll says in the video. “And that there’s always a way to overcome an obstacle if you really want it enough.”

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