Daniela Fasano, International Ambassador of the Community, interwieved the paralympic athlete Daniele Cassioli, holder of so many sport record (he won the last one in August). Let’s discover his story
Daniele Cassioli was born in Rome 34 years ago and at the age of 2 he moved to Gallarate near Varese (Milan) together with his parents and elder brother Davide where he lives at present. He is blind from birth as a consequence of a genetic disorder of the eyes. Since his childhood, facing his condition with bravery, Daniele has shaped his mind and personality becoming a physiotherapist and above all an extraordinary waterskier.
His sport record is astonishing:
- World championship: 25 gold, 7 silver and 1 bronze medals;
- European championship: 25 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze medals;
- Italian championship: 41 gold, 7 silver, 2 bronze medals
He is still holding the world record in 3 categories: slalom trick & jump. The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation nominated him three times world athlete of the year, disabled category (2008, 2010, 2014) and he is considered the greatest disabled waterskier of all times.
Beside his great achievements in sport competitions, Daniele has always been strongly committed in helping blind children and their families. In 2018 he shared his story in his autobiography “Il Vento Contro” (Headwind) and in December 2019 founded “Real Eyes Sport” a non-professional sport association whose objective is to promote sport activities for people affected by visive impairment disease.
Last but not least, Daniele is one of the most esteemed and sought-after guest speakers in all sort of event thanks to his very brilliant, life-changing and truly inspiring speeches. Our community Secretary.it had the great honor to have Daniele as a guest speaker at our last Secretary Day in 2019 and during the lockdown he held an amazing free webinar about resilience.
Let’s find out something more about from himself…
Daniele, what or who are your “reference point” in your life?
My best reference ever always goes to my family. My parents had a relationship with me as “Daniele” first and then with the blind part of me. That means that they treated me as they did with my brother. So I realized that even if I could not see, I had to study hard, build good friendship and respect the rules and other children.
How and when did you take up a sport for the first time and particularly the water skiing, becoming then a world champion?
I started doing sport at the age of 4. My brother used to swim and my parents thought that I could as well. Than we tried other sports and I experienced snow skiing first and water ski a little later. The first time was really weird because, as usual, I could not see what I was almost starting to do. When you can see, you have the opportunity to take a look at things and learn before doing anything.. For me that was not possible, so I had to trust others and I discovered being a fast learner thanks to waterski: I had to listen to unknown voices and stand in a new situation without my parents and my brother at my side. That’s when I realised I cope with this despite being alone, a fresh starter and blind…When I started waterskiing in 1995 we were just seen as disabled people doing sport. Now we are paralympic athletes with our own dignity.
You play piano and drums (graduated in theory and solfege). That means that sport is not your one and only passion! How important has been for you to cultivate different interests?
When I was a kid, I could not take a look around so…I took a “hear” instead and I discovered the big world of noises and sounds. That helped with my feeling for music in general and I had the great chance to learn it. I think that passions are really the true meaning of life. Every time we do something we love, great things happen. That is why I appreciate to have many interests and I understand that my passions makes me feel alive. Maybe as I have been told so many times “you are blind: you can’t do it” new things have always attracted me. New things can become new passions and new passions are one of the best luck in a man’s life.
In your study path to become a physiotherapist and osteopath,once again, you had to draw your biggest resolution, self-confidence and out-of-the box thinking attitude out. Is that true?
I am really proud of my graduation at the university, because the first one I went to ask told me that – being blind – I could have not become a physiotherapist. So I moved to a different one and with a lot of struggles (eg. Accessibility) I reached the top marks. As a lesson learned I am now aware that negative effects of wrong judgements can take anyone really far from who we are: I run the risk of not doing what I wanted to do. I deserve to live experiences as a person, before being a blind person.
In your book “Il Vento Contro” you say that “you can only make fun of people you love most”, so to say that being able to making a little fun of ourselves is a sign of self-esteem. You have yourself a great sense of humor also regarding your blindness. How did you develop this attitude?
I developed this attitude because I really knew deep pain. I passed through the pain and I asked myself if that was the mindset I wanted to live with. Furthermore I think that fun is a serious issue. Every problem will never change by itself, the way we deal with it can change and our approach is the key to overcome a difficulty: smiling can give a problem a smaller power to change our vibes.
Aside from just being the right thing to do, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) programs are vital to companies that want to attract and retain the best talent and represent a booster to enhance business performance; however, they are largely ineffective without a culture that drives and supports them. What are your suggestions for a true activation and concrete implementation in our company culture and leadership attitude?
This is actually a though topic. Sadly thinking about US protests in these weeks, we can see how far from a right culture we are. In my opinion, the main point is that we will never be free from discrimination if we do not teach a culture of fair competition (in Italian AGONISMO) and not rivalry (in Italian ANTAGONISMO). No one can stop you from doing your best: it’s up to you and in your hands you have the opportunity to learn from others. Sport can help to understand it better because when you are in a team you need people who are different from you and will help to win the game. In basketball, for instance, you have a playmaker that is probably smaller and faster compared to a pivot who is probably taller and stronger. They need each other, because their capabilities are complementary and they know it and respect each other. The same happens in life: we should understand that we are playing together the same big match to make this planet a better place for us and for our children and therefore we need everyone’s skills. I know the story pretty well because when I was young a lot of people looked at me thinking about my blindness and starting relating with me based on what I did not have. We should appreciate every relationship focusing on the different qualities of others. With this mindset, it will be easier to be inspired by people different from us and we will understand that diversity is a great point to transform a group of people in a winning team.
Thank you Daniele, how incredibly passionate you are! No one can stop you from doing your best
Lunedì 21 Settembre 2020 alle ore 13 Daniele Cassioli terrà un Webinar di beneficenza dal titolo “Essere consapevoli per ricominciare”. Ricordiamo che il contributo verrà devoluto in beneficenza a Enti e Associazioni del Territorio Varesino impegnate in prima linea nella lotta al Covid-19. Per partecipare al Webinar, clicca qui
Questo momento di crisi si può trasformare in un’opportunità solo se ci fermiamo ad analizzare veramente le risorse che abbiamo da mettere in campo per ridisegnare il nostro futuro. Essere consapevoli del nostro ruolo è fondamentale per ritrovare il nostro posto durante la ripresa da questa emergenza