Less than 2 miles away from SPoT is a fun little public skatepark next to DeSoto Elementary School. It has a great mini ramp and is usually not busy because none of the neighborhood kids have skateboards. It might be nice to have the whole park to yourself but it’s never good to have a public skatepark not being used by the locals. Boards for Bros fixed that last week with our Annual Christmas Distribution. We teamed up with Miss Deirdre of the DeSoto After School Activities Program and gave all 70 kids in the program a skateboard to keep. Even better? Thanks to Board Stix, all the kids personalized their boards and made them into unique pieces of art. Even better than that? Our friends Bess the Book Bus and Giving Tree Music were on hand to give the kids books and an amazing music session. Our volunteers (and Santa Kris) gave everyone free lessons, demos and handed out pizza and cookies. Thanks to the Community Foundation Dreaming Fund, our generous donors, sponsors and volunteers all of these kids will be able to skateboard after school (or any time of day they want). We are stoked to give the gift of skateboarding to a neighborhood that needs it and we are looking forward to more crowded sessions at DeSoto Skatepark. - Michelle Box
Words by Chris Preston
Photos by the volunteers
These boards were built with your donations, whether it was money or parts, and now we're getting ready to hand them out to some future rippers.
Santa's here and ready to show these kids how it's done. I wonder if Derick and Wes are asking for new tricks for Christmas...
For anyone who doesn't know, Boards for Bros is Skatepark of Tampa's official 501(3)(c) non-profit charity started by Schaefer and Paul Schmitt back in the day. With the help and hard work of Michelle Box, along with countless volunteers over the years, it has grown to expand to places like New Jersey, NYC, Orange County, North Carolina and even Cuba and Canada. That means a lot of happy kids out there...these two have a lot to smile about.
The boards are ready and so are these kids...
Joel can't hand these out fast enough, but he handles it like a pro.
First priority: get your name on your board. A lot of these kids were surprised they actually got to keep theirs, so I think personalizing each deck really drove it home. Clint Smith and Raechel Barfield were on hand to help out.
Ready to skate!
Oh wait...safety first. Joel makes some helmets available for the kids who want them. These were all donations, so thanks if you contributed.
This kid is either really admiring his new gift, or trying to figure out which helmet would go best with it...
That face says it all.
Half the fun of skateboarding is setting it up. You're either a sticker person or not. The "Bald Eagle Forever" stickers are a reminder of our fallen homie, Matt Woods, who was a big time supporter of Boards for Bros and an all-around great dude.
Bess the Book Bus and Giving Tree music are two more non-profit groups that are always helping us out at these events. The kids that were waiting to get skateboards also got to go pick out a free book and sit in on a drum circle while they were here.
Who better to get skateboarding lessons from than the Big Boss man himself?
Woody is another volunteer that does a lot for Boards for Bros. He's also a proud skate dad who had no trouble helping these kids with their first push.
A lot of these kids live right next to a skatepark, but come from families that may never be able to afford to buy them a skateboard. Seeing their faces light up makes all our efforts worth it.
Seeing all these kids learning how to skate made some adults want to try it too. That's my wife Catherine (another Boards for Bros volunteer) getting some help from Santa...
Not a bad start...point those toes!
Uncle Sam does lessons here at the park on Sundays and is also a SPoT Skate Camp counselor, so if you need a skateboarding coach, there are very few people that can do it better.
One of the kids asked me if I would draw something on his griptape, which then quickly turned into all the kids wanting something on their griptape.
Some of them were inspired them to make their own griptape art.
Right around this time, we started feeling some raindrops and thought the day was over, so we all rushed to get a group photo.
Luckily, Mother Nature gave us a break and the skating continued under clear skies.
THANK YOU to all the kids, parents, faculty and volunteers that helped us make this year's Distribution Day a success. Your continued support puts smiles on these kids' faces. Remember that you can always donate to Boards for Bros at any time by going to their website here