St. Pete skateboarder born with one hand hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams

Pinellas County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – He skateboards because he loves it. He loves the process of perfecting new tricks. He loves the opportunities to meet new friends. Now, for 11-year-old Josh Tancos, he hopes to use his skateboarding skills to inspire others.

“If somebody does a trick,” said Tancos, “that makes you want to do it a little bit more.”  

Tancos, who will be a fifth grader at Azalea Elementary School this year, is the youngest of five children. He has three older brothers and says he hopped on a skateboard after watching one of them on it.

“My brother, Mikey, used to skate,” said Josh, “but then, he got his back hurt so I started skating after him.” 

That skating happened near his home in St. Petersburg thanks to the construction of the St. Pete Skatepark.

“After that park opened up,” explained his mother, Michelle, “we just started skating every day and Josh fell in love with it and we have been skating ever since.”  

Tancos has been skateboarding for about three years and now, he is doing it competitively.

“I am doing everything everybody else is doing,” he said.   

The 11-year-old, who was born without his left hand, participated in the first adaptive skateboarding competition in Iowa in May. He finished in fourth place.

“I always tell new parents this who are kind of facing what we are facing with Josh, you will be so amazed by your kid,” Michelle said.

She told 8 On Your Side’s Gabrielle Shirley she remembers feeling nervous for her son when he was born.

“What would things look like for him? Would things be hard for him? I used to tell him every time we go to a new place, I am like, ‘Josh, you are unique and you are a little bit different but everybody is different. Yours is just something that you can see,’” she said.  

His shyness flipped to confidence with a skateboard under his feet.   

“The skateboarding community has been super awesome and very accepting and everybody that knows Josh does not even notice his hand,” the boy’s mother said. “I do not even notice it. It is just part of him and I think that is how Josh sees it too.” 

He also sees how he can bring the best out of someone simply by pursuing his passion.  

“If I do a trick, kids that can’t do it will want to do it even more and, if they are scared to do it, they will want to do it because they know that I can do it,” Tancos said.

“If you have something you really have a passion for, don’t let anything stop you,” said Michelle. “Josh is a great role model for that. He just goes out there and, when he wants to do something, he works really, really hard and he goes for it and I think that is a pretty cool thing to show other kids.”

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