Jonas Letieri | Pursuing Passion Against the Odds

Fighting plight into purpose, sans hands.

For kids who discover the water bug early in their lives, surfing and paddling are more than after school pastimes; they’re a way of life. In the case of Jonas Letieri, Brazil’s fearless first-year contender making major wakes in the SUP racing scene, judging from his devotion to the sport, the water bug infected him long ago.

One day a few short years ago, an accident happened while he was volunteering at his local church, and his life was changed forever. In a millisecond’s time, an electrical malfunction sent a spontaneous shock through his system culminated in Letieri losing both his arms from the elbow down.

While most people might never return to the water after such a traumatic incident, 30-year-old Letieri is not most people. He came back to the sport more eager than ever, and after his performance at last year’s Payette River Games and then this year’s HanoHano Challenge in San Diego, his drive was rewarded with recognition from Quickblade’s paddle stroke guru Jim Terrell, along with SUP superstars the likes of Candice Appleby, Dave Boehne and Anthony Vela, all of whom took Letieri under their communal wings in California, mentored him, helped him dial in his stroke and specialized equipment and further enabled Letieri to continue inspiring the rest of us.

This video tells the compelling story of Jonas’ incredible journey back to surfing and SUP racing, and how the SUP community welcomed him back with unanimous support. His attitude will surely inspire you. Proof that a positive perspective is powerful enough to overcome any challenges life throws our way.

Get to know Jonas Letieri in our digital feature on this inspirational SUP athlete.

Learn how SUP helped this veteran overcome his debilitating cognitive injuries.