COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sora in Japanese means sky. Eight-year-old Sora Chamberlain is living up to his name, proving the sky is the limit when you aren’t afraid to take a risk.
Sora is living with several diagnoses, including a rare genetic disorder, but you would never know that watching him skateboard.
“Lots of stickers,” said his father, Tristan Chamberlain, describing Sora’s helmet.
Tristan said he always had this hope of what it would be like to be a parent.
“You think about all the things that you want to do with your children when they have them and you kind of like future plan,” he said. “And when you when things don't turn out the way you expect it to, it's difficult you know, nobody is I think ever prepared to be a special needs parent.”
At a Columbus skate park on a Sunday morning, the entire Chamberlain family was out rocking their helmets, wrist guards and knee guards.
“Good job, Kai Kai!” you could hear Tristan calling out.
Kai is Sora’s younger brother who, at 5 years old, has also learned how to skateboard.
An impressive sight is watching both Sora and Kai drop into a steep half-pipe on their skateboards.
Sora has a rare chromosomal deletion called Prader-Willi syndrome. It's a one in 30,000 chromosome deletion.
It affects his hypothalamus, which is the command center for his brain. He also has cerebral palsy, predominantly affecting his right side.
“Sora has got a lot of things counting against him, you know, he's got a condition that gives them low muscle tone. It puts him in a state where he might not necessarily feel pain. And now he's got a condition that makes it difficult for his joints to move his right foot has a tendency of point all the time. And he's limited in range of motion,” explained Tristan. “When I first got Sora's diagnosis it was heartbreaking.”
Tristan said he and his wife were cleaning out the garage one day when Sora got a hold of Tristan’s old skateboard.
“[Sora] started riding it down the driveway. And my first reaction was, ‘oh my gosh, he’s skateboarding!’ And then it was ‘oh my gosh, he's heading right towards the street!’”
From there, Tristan said, the family sort of just “fell into skateboarding.”
“We have this just amazing community and we would have never had it had Sora never just decided to stand on a skateboard one day,” said Tristan. “Anything is possible as long as you're willing to take the risk and try.”
He has a message for all parents, a lesson he learned from his son.
“I want more parents to look outside of what we traditionally think of in terms of sports and activities. Because you never know what your child's going to be able to excel at. Treat them as a blank canvas as much as possible. And sometimes you just gotta throw things at that canvas and see what sticks. If you don't, you might miss out on something beautiful.”