“This seems to be one of our better turnouts. We’ve got a lot of skaters here, all the sponsors came out, and all the fans came out. It’s a blessing to have this day.” ~ Ryan Sheckler
What does the Ryan Sheckler Foundation and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe of Washington have in common? Simple. They are working together to build a better community for future generations. For the fourth year in a row, the philanthropic skateboarder and his foundation has delivered an incredibly fun event and achieved their annual $50,000 goal to help others – only this time they raised $100,000 for their Be The Change initiative.
“Be The Change” – a phrase bannered by the foundation – resonates with positive vibes when attending The Sheckler Foundation’s 4th Annual Skate For A Cause event in Lake Forest, California, benefitting Be The Change, a program instituted to educate, equip and ultimately, empower communities in need. The phrase, narrowed from Mahatma Gandhi’s message, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change,” was employed by the foundation to convey their call for personal and social transformation, a philosophy by which they lead with many examples.
Contributions raised this year will fund a new skatepark to be constructed on the shores of Port Gamble Bay in the Kitsap Peninsula, Washington. The project was nominated from hundreds of submissions and the Native American Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe rallied to collect the most votes for their plans to build a skatepark. The Sheckler Foundation and the tribe have been working collectively over the past year to create a park that will enrich the lives of children on the reservation for years to come.
On May 4th, thousands of attendees were welcomed by a line-up of sponsored carnival style tents, prize-winning games for kids, awesome food, pro skate contests and a truckload of fun. Bounce castles swarmed with smiling tots hopping to beats of their own. From Ford Motors, UFC, Fred water, and a number of other sponsors joined in to support and celebrate this years cause: to raise $50,000 toward the completion of a skatepark in the realm of the S’Klallam Indian Reservation in Washington. It’s no surprise, with the spirit of unity between the foundation, it’s sponsors, skaters and fans, that the final goal reached was double the anticipation: $100,000 was raised at this years event. Gretchen Sheckler, who promised she wouldn’t cry during her final announcement, held tears back behind her shades as she shared the incredible news, “We raised $100,000. Which means we will be able to finish our project in Washington and start the next Be The Change project.”
In spirit of the Skate For A Cause philosophy, Fred Water sponsored the Skater Cross Contest, where pro skaters race in pairs through a whimsical obstacle course in the flow section of the park. The races is packed with laughs as skaters are disqualified for riding outside the cones, teasing their opponents, or simply fall behind in their push toward glory. “Skate for a Cause is an event everyone at Fred Water looks forward to all year,” said creative director, Ariel Broggi. “True to their mission, the Sheckler Foundation is making a difference and we love working with everyone there. And of course, we love hanging out in SoCal and watching the skateboarders rip too. We’re humbled to be a part of it and already can’t wait for next spring.”
Absolutely Alice, a company based upon imagination and wonder, through the creative use of a sharpie markers, invited guests to scribe their thoughts onto a whimsical wall. “This opportunity gave me a chance to display and express my passion for art. I was able to show people what unique and endless possibilities can be created from a simple sharpie marker,” riddled artist Laurie Liberatore.
Arriving in droves, pro skaters came to skate, support and enjoy a fun day with the Foundation. Neal Hendrix, long time friend of Ryan stated, “I’ve known Sheckler since he was a kid, so it’s amazing to see how far he’s come and be in the position he is to do amazing things for people who need help and support. Skateboarding is all about community and this event is a perfect example of how the skate world will rally around a good cause”.
Punk-rock authentic skater Duane Peters arrived to the event and shared that, “The Sheckler family has continually built this day for others, up from a session with the boys for toys benefit to the real deal, and everybody is getting hip and coming out to give time and fun for whatever the good cause ends up being about! We skateboarders love this stuff so we get a chance to have killer great sessions with all ages of the best in the game of skateboard riding”.
Alongside Ryan Sheckler, friends, peers and heroes arrived by the dozens, to share their loyalty and support for the Foundation and it’s goals. The GoPro Legends Bowl contest, a friendly competition of some of skateboarding’s greatest heroes included Christian Hosoi, Dave Hackett, Jay Adams, Dave Duncan, and more. Dave ‘Hackman’ Hackett proudly participated in the event delivering, among a number of great runs, a killer Deathbox grind in the Legends Bowl. “You know, I get invited to a lot of events, but the one that I really look forward to every year is Ryan Sheckler’s Skate for a Cause because the vibe is so amazingly cool. Ryan, Gretchen and Angelique really know how to host a top-notch event and treat everyone with class, dignity and respect, and that just makes everyone want to be there to give of their time, energy, and talent knowing that we are all just one big happy skateboard family doing something good in the world!”
Legend skater Christian Hosoi stated, “The Sheckler foundation skate for a cause event is amazing! There was a great vibe in the air because everyone was there to donate their time, skills and profession for the cause! To see the dedication and desire to help is inspiring! The event is different than all other events because it gives back to help others as well as having a great contest with world-class professional skateboarders. It was an honor to support such a great event and cause. Thanks to the Sheckler family for the invitation to help with the cause. God bless you!”
The day lead up to a best trick contest, which encompassed a handful of obstacles in the park including the eleven stair set, bank to rails, and quarter pipe. Greg Lutzka, who has attended every year, took first place for the day, donating back his $3,000 winnings to the Foundation. “The Sheckler foundation is a great event for an awesome cause to get all the kids and skaters together to give back and have some fun,” said Lutzka.
Local Park pro Dylan Witkin rallied up two big wins for the day, stating, “I like the event because whether you win or lose, you’re helping to give back to skateboarding”.
Etnies is the primary sponsor of the event. “Whether it’s building skateparks, creating events, sponsoring events or supporting riders, etnies is all about giving back to the skateboarding community, said Don Brown, senior vice president of marketing at Sole Tech. “The Sheckler Foundation’s 4th “Skate For a Cause” was another perfect event to be involved with – top riders and great support from the entire skate industry and all at the etnies skatepark – one of the biggest and best skateparks in the world! Great job to The Sheckler Foundation and all the sponsors, riders and volunteers for pulling off another of the best events of the year!”
Lifelong friend of the Sheckler family and pro skater, Neal Mims, has attended all four of the annual events said, “I love this event because of what it stands for. It’s all about giving back. The difference between this event and other skate events is that everyone one of us from each generation of skateboarding is there skating for the same purpose; which is to raise money for a good cause.”
Media attending the event showed up with grace and humility. Robert Brink, of Sole Tech and The Ride Channel’s Weekend Buzz attends the event every year. “I make it a point to attend Skate for a Cause every year, stated Brink. “Skateboarding has been a part of my life for over 25 years and to be able to attend events and sometimes be involved in them or help spread the message as a member of the media is a privilege. Any time I can put skateboarding or my resources towards a good cause I will do so. And I will support anyone in our industry trying to do the same, and help as much as I can, especially someone like Ryan Sheckler and etnies, both of whom I’ve been involved with since 2005 when I first got hired by Sole Technology.”
The event closed with a celebratory speech from Gretchen Sheckler, who recently shared with me her awareness that one person, alone, cannot change anything, a genuine awareness that fantastic projects and initiatives can be accomplished only by great numbers of people working together with discipline, persistence and passion.