Norberto De Angelis story is really similar to many others young people with great passion for sport. He was born in Piacenza in 1964 and currently he lives in Varano de’ Melegari (Italy).
Norberto has been always an athlete. He achieved several accomplishments among which, the most valuable, the Helsinki, Finland, American Football European Championship in 1987 with Italian national team. He played middle linebacker and he scored the top number of tackles. That was the result of a ten-year career playing in some of Italian best teams.
He wanted to return to others what life brought to him and for this reason, in 1992, he volunteered in a mission in Tanzania, Africa, aiming to help locals to improve their quality of life.
During the experience, he got involved in a serious car accident that put him in coma for two months. At the awakening, he realized he could not walk any longer.
Spinal cord injury with post-traumatic paraplegia. Life-long wheelchair destiny. Nonetheless Norberto has never gave up easily in life. When he played, he was a leader, a charismatic player and a broken back would have not certainly prevent him from doing what he wanted; to live his life on his own way. Not even the cancer that was diagnose to him in 2007 would have made him change his mind.
In 2008, without saving himself, he started practicing handbike setting clear, stimulating and ambitious targets.
The first goal, with a general purpose, was to be an example for those who had to cope with unpredictable life events.
Other goals were to shape his own life and continue to train himself so he could cross with an Handbike the United States along the famous Route 66 realizing what many defined a dream not achievable, an utopia. Departing from Chicago, he arrived to Santa Monica pier, near Los Angeles, after almost 3800 km in 80 days, eight states, three different time zones filled with challenges, sweat and hard work. Metaphorically he managed to accomplish a coast to coast journey between his prior life to his new one.
Until then nobody with his physical disabilities has ever done it
He continue working out and he won the Italian Championship of Paralympic Powerlifting in 2012 in 85+ Kg category. Then, in 2013, he wanted to go back to marvelous and wild land of Maasai, Tanzania, the vallet of Baobabs and its national parks. He wanted to cross the country from west to east starting from Matembwe, the village that hosted him twenty years earlier, to arrive in Dar Es Salaam, going through the place where he had his car accident.
During this adventure, he had the opportunity to meet many people and, village after village, he talked about his experience with the purpose to instil hope in those individuals who cope everyday with physical disabilities, in particular especially the most disadvantaged people of Sub-Saharan countries suffering from physical and mental disabilities: the poorest amongst the poor, the rejects of African societies.
Indeed Norberto wanted to leverage sport, his perpetual lighthouse, to convey his messages how to live own lives actively and to become an example for others and not only for himself.
These adventures aim to show the love for the sport, freedom and nature. Powerful antidotes to purify ourselves from pain and to realize we are still driving our own life.