If Derek Rabelo doesn’t inspire you to pursue your dreams and push through the obstacles, not many others will.
Brazilian native Derek Rabelo has been surfing for nearly 7 years…
But there’s something extremely unordinary about him.
Naming him after Derek Ho, the world’s first Hawaiian surfing champion, Derek’s father had dreams of his son becoming a professional surfer. After finding out he was born blind though, due to glaucoma, he had to set those dreams aside–or so he thought.
When he was 17, Derek’s father told him of his desire to teach him to surf and immediately he was interested.
Derek, who’d always had an aspiration for water sports, got on the horse right away. And despite his blindness, he learned quickly, with the help of his father and some formal training.
“Firstly, my dad encouraged and helped me,” Derek told Bored Panda. “We went to the ocean together in the mornings. However, he sent me to a surf course to learn and practise more. I have also practised a lot with my friends. They always consider me just as themselves.”
Of course, learning to surf without vision had its challenges, but none that Derek wasn’t ready to overcome.
Fast-forward six years to now, and he’s honed his other senses – particularly his hearing – to the point of vision being nearly irrelevant.
“I listen to the ocean and feel it,” Derek said. “And every single part of a wave makes different noises. So, I can decide which side of the wave I should surf towards.”
Now, as a professional surfer, Derek’s main focus, even more than improving his own ability, is to inspire others with his story.
“I want to do more and show what a blind man can do to more people.”
“If you have a dream, you have to believe in yourself. Otherwise, you can not do it. I believe all of us have strong senses given by God.”
When Derek’s not out on the water wave-hunting, he travels the world speaking at schools and conference sharing his story with others.
Watch the video Turkish Airlines did on Derek’s story here: