- Text by Christopher Saunders
“One day I hope some kid with a missing leg sees me skating and gets inspired” says adaptive skater Oscar Loreto Jr., reflecting on how, as a child, Jon Comer inspired him to surpass the limits imposed on him by his disability: “What inspired me the most was how he just put himself out there … He never used it as a pity card.”
An Ode to Jon Comer, directed by filmmaker Ben Stoddard, is an affectionately made short documentary looking at the lasting influence of Comer who rose to the highest level in the international skate scene in the mid-nineties, despite having a prosthetic limb.
Stoddard focuses on Loreto Jr. as one of many young disabled skaters who have had their lives changed by the sport, and who were initially compelled to pick up a board by seeing Comer skate.
Loreto Jr. – who was born missing both hands and a leg – tells Stoddard that, when he was younger, Comer made him realise that skating was a sport that wasn’t closed to those with a disability. Indeed, he found the skate world to be one bereft of prejudice, unlike other sports where he found himself bullied and ostracised for his appearance.
Loreto Jr. talks fondly of the skate scene for the way it unifies people regardless of body type or ability: “At the skate park, nobody cared that I was handicapped.” They didn’t ‘murmur’ or call him names like they did in the basketball courts, for example, they just accepted him for who he was.
Stoddard’s film captures Loreto Jr.’s love of the sport through both his interactions with other skaters, who marvel at his abilities, and through the use of a mobile camera which catches him in action, proving how strength of mind can overcome the limits set by the body. This is all thanks to the bravery of Comer: “Jon’s courage helped inspire me to get out of my shell, and all I can only hope is that I can do that deed for someone else.”