KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sometimes, a person’s ability is determined by the size of their drive.
A skateboard enthusiast from the Kansas City metro has proven that. The loss of a leg can’t hold him back from the sport he loves or leading others to greatness.
Losing his leg was the best thing that ever happened to Matthew Hawkins. It might sound odd, but the Gladstone native said that crash opened him to the world of adaptive skating.
The 36-year-old said he`s been enlisted by ESPN and the Summer X Games to bring adaptive skating back to the extreme sports show.
He’d always loved skating, but that 2008 car crash made him fearful his days on the deck were done.
“I didn’t think I’d ever skateboard again,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said that crash, in June 2008, happened when a drunk driver ran him off the road. His right leg was badly injured, and eventually, had to be amputated as a result of the wreck.
“A guardrail went through the side of my Mustang and cut my seat in half,” Hawkins said.
Instead of giving up, Hawkins gave adaptive skating a try, and he’s never looked back.
Hawkins said he’s part of a group organized by Burning Spider Stoke Shop, a popular skateboard emporium on W. 39th Street, where he assists in teaching others to dominate their decks.
Video the store provided showed Hawkins in a downhill skate at one of Kansas City’s public parks, skating with skill despite missing one leg from the thigh down.
Adaptive Action Sports, which is based in the metro, works with ESPN and enlisted Hawkins’ expertise for the upcoming Summer X Games, where adaptive skateboarding will be seen by the entire world.
The Summer X Games, which feature a series of popular extreme sports, will begin on Aug. 1 in Minneapolis. Skateboarding has also been added to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Local skateboarding fans believe that’s also given a push to the adaptive version of the sport.
“The numbers are growing. All across the world, we find new adaptive skateboarders,” Hawkins said. “It’s huge that we finally have a platform to showcase what they can do.”
Joe Burnham, Burning Spider owner, said he knows Hawkins well. Burnham said if not for Hawkins, legions of adaptive skaters in the Kansas City metro would never have tried to skate because of their disabilities.
“Matt is absolutely awesome,” Burnham said. “The dude is all about building people up and showing them what they can do. No matter what their situation is or what their current ability is, they can do what they want to do.”
Hawkins told FOX4 News he wants to open even more adaptive athletes to skating. Part of that dream includes building an indoor skate part that’s open year round and built with adaptive skaters in mind.
He said the more people give it a try, the more they’ll believe they can.