Being a father is an amazing 24/7 job that demands a LOT of patience and being the dad of a kid with disabilities is an unplanned journey with many challenges and highs. You take the time to appreciate more the little things that otherwise you would let pass you by, and you witness little miracles that you would not necessarily notice otherwise.
By Miriam Aguilar Garza - Published June 15th, 2023
Today, we want to introduce you to an amazing father-and-son duo that makes surfing look like an easy task: Walter and Enzo. Walter is a 57-year-old dad of 3 beautiful kids (Claudia, Lea and Enzo). He is passionate about his family, traveling, and enjoying the little things with his loved ones. Enzo is a 19-year-old young adult who lives with Cerebral Palsy, he is passionate about any water sport, boxing, and he loves pushing his limits. Enzo is also a proud Motion Composites wheelchair user. He has never let his disability stop him from trying new things, like last summer when he attached his wheelchair to a paddleboard and surfed on the coast of New Hampshire.
Walter and Enzo are big fans of all kinds of sports, from baseball to football, to hockey. They are huge supporters of many teams like the Boston Bruins, the Montreal Canadians, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays and many more. They are the kind of dynamic duo that keeps traveling all over the USA and Canada, trying to catch the waves along the way, and when the surf season is over, they train hard to stay strong for the following year.
To celebrate this amazing father-and-son relationship and in commemoration of Father’s Day, we wanted to talk to Enzo’s dad – Walter Marcantoni.
Motion Composites: What can you tell us about Enzo?
Walter Marcantoni: There is so much I could say about him! His personality is amazing, and he is grateful for everything. He is so much fun; he brings tons of energy to life, and when he is around. things just pick up.
When people see my son or a person with disabilities, they tend to see what is not there, what is missing from their life. They don’t see what is there, what they have to offer. Yes, my son cannot walk, but he is a great human being! He enjoys every bit of life, being around people, is a prankster, and loves making people laugh. Every day with him is a good day.
He is very aware that he cannot walk. He would say things like, “I wish I could play hockey, surf standing up, or hit a baseball standing up.” But he also knows that together we will find a way to do it his way, with his capabilities. He enjoys traveling and working out, is passionate about sports, singing, listening to music (especially Green Day!), hanging out with his family, and keeps reminding us about the importance of just enjoying life.
MC: Can you describe for us a typical day in your life? And in Enzo’s life?
WM: Well, right now, he is in school. A typical day starts with us getting him ready to go to school, brushing his teeth, etc. He LOVES school. He enjoys learning very much! He loves math and he just learned to read, which we never thought would be possible!
He does not come back home until around 3:30 p.m. If it’s a nice day, we go to play outside. If not, he would spend a couple of hours on his PlayStation. He just got a new baseball game, so I know that he will play it a lot in the following days.
He also enjoys watching all kinds of sports. Now that the Toronto Maple Leafs have been eliminated, it is baseball season, and right on time, at 6:30 p.m., he will be sitting in front of the TV, ready to watch his team – the Toronto Blue Jays! I can assure you that he will be screaming at that TV! He is so passionate! It must be his Italian side (laughs).
Certain days are slightly different: Thursdays and Saturdays are “gym days.” He enjoys the working out part a lot, but the thing he loves the most about going to the gym is having that connection with other people while he is there. It makes him feel like he is part of something and is super close to his coach, Steve Begin.
Enzo with his coach Steve Begin
MC: What is your favorite thing about being a dad of three?
WM: I will be really honest with you when Enzo was born, and we found out about his disability, the thing that scared me the most was that his sisters would one day come to resent him because they would end up missing out on things in life because of his disability. That is why we made it a point to include Enzo in everything, along with the girls. If we wanted to go hiking, surfing, or biking, we would make sure that we could do it with Enzo.
Being a dad of three is extremely rewarding, and we’re very fortunate to have our 2 beautiful daughters! Since Enzo requires much more attention, I was afraid that they would feel neglected, but on the contrary, they have been absolutely fantastic with their brother.
I love my 3 kids, they have become three wonderful people, and I am so proud of them! I can confidently say that my favorite thing about being a dad is watching your kids do things on their own and succeed. There is a win for Enzo every single day! My oldest daughter, Claudia, is in law school, and my middle daughter, Lea, has become a bodybuilder like me. Seeing her win her first ever competition made me so proud! There is no better feeling in the world!
MC: What has Enzo taught you and your family?
WM: To appreciate EVERYTHING! All the little things. We tend to get so hung up on everyday things that we miss out on the little things that make us happy.
Seeing how Enzo gets super excited whenever it is a sunny day or when he knows he will get to see an old friend or family member living far away. This has made a huge difference in the way we approach things. Enzo keeps our feet on the ground and reminds us of the importance of appreciating those moments that we tend to take for granted.
MC: What have you learned about yourself from being the dad of a kid with disabilities?
WM: I realized that I am capable of doing things I never thought possible! He has taught me that I am stronger than I thought. I did not believe I had the strength to raise a child like Enzo, with all the special care that he requires. My wife Denyze and I did not expect this, but he made us realize that we are not just capable of raising a child with disabilities but that we are able to make him happy!
I am not going to lie; for the first few years, it was really hard. It was hard to accept that my child would never walk or would never be able to do things like other children. I was scared at first, but Enzo has changed my way of seeing the world, and he has forced us to be much more flexible and adaptive. We love him so much and would not change anything about him!
MC: We saw you went surfing in New Hampshire with Enzo. How did you feel when you saw him riding the waves?
WM: It was crazy! My wife and I had tears in our eyes. It was magical! I cannot put it into words. He was SO happy!! The videos do not do it any justice; the energy was amazing!
The owners of the Summer Sessions Surf Shop, Ryan and Tyler McGill, were the ones that came up with the idea of taking Enzo to surf, and we could not be more grateful to them! They came up with the idea to attach a sports buggy to a paddle board. They took 10-12 people, and everyone helped us to make him surf.
Often people with disabilities, including Enzo, feel left out as if they don’t belong because they are different. When Ryan and Tyler told him that he was part of the Summer Sessions Surf Shop team, Enzo felt ecstatic! It was indescribable for us to see him scream, “again, again!!” and not want to stop surfing! We cannot wait to go back again!
MC: You told us in the past that the favorite thing that Enzo loves about his Motion Composites wheelchair is the sense of stability and security that he gets from it. Is there a favorite feature that he has?
WM: More for me than for him; we love how lightweight it is! It makes transfers a breeze! We love traveling with Enzo, and folding it and taking it apart to put it in a vehicle and then assembling it back together quickly is a must for us.
Enzo’s body has changed, he has gotten taller, and he has gained some weight, and we were able to adjust it to his current body shape! This wheelchair is super adjustable. There is not one thing that I don’t like about that chair.
MC: How does Enzo’s Motion Composites wheelchair contribute to his day-to-day life? And to your traveling?
WM: It is a fantastic product! This wheelchair allows us to have freedom! Enzo does have an electric wheelchair, but we never use it for traveling or when we know that the places are less accessible. His Motion Composites wheelchair gives us access; I can grab and lift the chair without any problem!
We love traveling, and we do travel a lot. We have been everywhere in the USA and Canada and also Europe. We went to visit my family in Italy a couple of times. This chair allows us to go places that we otherwise would not be able to go. For example, when we were down in Paris, for some reason, their metro system still doesn’t have any elevators. Still, I was able to lift my son and his chair without any problem and move around the city like any other person.
We have never had any problems while traveling with him. If there are only a few steps, I can turn the chair, tilt it a little and away we go!
He spends a lot of time in his Motion Composites chair and is very comfortable in it! I don’t know what we would do if it weren't for that chair. It is easy to go up and down stairs, to get in and out of cars or restaurants! We are so grateful for it.
MC: It would not be an article about Father’s Day without fatherly advice. Is there anything that you recommend to new dads out there whose kids have a disability?
WM: My advice is to take it one day at a time! It is a gift! Please don’t see it as a curse, or a restriction in life, because it is not. Go and make the most of it! These children will teach you more about yourself and life than what you think.
If your child cannot play hockey like other kids, you will find another way to get involved in that sport! I will not say it will be easy because it is not always easy, but it is SO worth it!
You will be introduced to another world you did not even know existed, and it may not be the one you were expecting, but it is beautiful! Your child will teach you so much about yourself and how strong you are, and you will learn to appreciate the little things. Just remember that and be happy!
I recommend this poem we found when Enzo was born, called “Welcome to Holland”. It is an amazing piece of literature that represents a great metaphor for what it is like to have a child with disabilities.
We want to thank Walter for taking the time to talk to us and sharing many stories about Enzo and his passionate heart! If you, like us, cannot wait to see Enzo hitting the waves this year, visit Walter’s Instagram account, where he posts Enzo’s new adventures in his Motion Composites wheelchair.
About Miriam Aguilar Garza
Digital Marketing Specialist at Motion Composites
Miriam holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Business from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (Mexico). She is passionate about writing, reading, traveling, and giving a voice to people in the wheelchair community.