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SAN DIEGO – For many, San Diego’s Linda Vista Skateboard Park is a place to escape life’s hardships.

To Robert Thompkins, it’s become akin to a second home.

“I fell dropping in the first times — and I’m still falling — but for me, at the end of the day, it’s all worth it because it’s what I live for,” Thompkins said.

For as long as can remember, skating has been a part of Thompkins’ world. But the art of it changed forever in 2005 when he severed his spinal cord in a cliff jumping accident at Green Valley Falls.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Robert’s brother Charles Thompkins said. “It was kind of traumatic, it all happening at once.”

At first, Robert said he struggled getting used to using his wheelchair. He eventually found himself needing it, particularly after two close family members died.

“When I found out about my older brother, when I found out about my uncle, I needed to get to my wheelchair so that I could let it out,” he said.

These days, you’ll find him at the skatepark every weekend. He also competes as a wheelchair skater around the globe, traveling to places including Florida and Germany.

“It really shows that it’ll never stop, nothing can stop him,” Thompkins’ friend DJ Martin said. “It’s going to continue whether you take his legs or whatever happens, happens.”

To those new to a life with a wheelchair, Thompkins has a simple message.

“Don’t give up hope,” he said. “The ability is still there for you to do what you enjoy in life. It just takes a little more effort and willingness and adapting to your newfound situation.”