This Blind Guy Became a Professional Surfer By Listening to the Waves

“You are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” -Oscar Pistorius

Derek Rabelo was born blind due to glaucoma, but this did not stop him from reaching his dreams. Derek’s father was a fan of surfing that he named his son after the first Hawaiian world surfing champion, Derek Ho. He always wanted his son to become a surfer. It was only when Derek turned 17 that he started learning how to surf. That’s when he decided to make his shared dream with his father come true.

Firstly, my dad encouraged and helped me. We went to the ocean together in the mornings. However, he sent me to a surf course to learn and practice more. I have also practiced a lot with my friends. They always consider me just as themselves.

How did Derek make his dreams come true even if he was practically blind? Derek listened to the ocean and felt it.

I listen to the ocean and feel it. And every single part of a wave makes different noises. So, I can decide which side of the wave I should surf towards. 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. Use them with passion and perseverance.

Currently, Derek travels the world for the best waves. He also gives talks in schools and conferences.

Watch Derek’s inspiring story here:

What is congenital glaucoma?

According to WebMD, glaucoma refers to a group of diseases in which there is permanent and characteristic damage to the optic nerve which is usually associated with abnormally high intraocular pressure.

Congenital glaucoma is a type of glaucoma that is rare and affects only 1 in about 10,000 infants. Both medical and surgical methods are used in treating childhood glaucoma. However, when left untreated, it can be a major cause of blindness.

Derek actually underwent several surgeries when he was a child, but they were all unsuccessful. At the age of 12, he begged his mother to spare him from further pain in the hospital. “He [said he] could live with that and just wanted to be happy”, Derek’s mother stated.


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