News: Longboarders skate 25 miles for the troops
Story by Lance Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot
OCEANSIDE, Calif. - Anti-skateboard groups have accused them of being deliquents, bums and property-destroyers, but on Nov. 13, almost 50 longboarders gathered in Oceanside, Calif., to raise money for injured Marines.
On a bright Saturday afternoon, a pack of longboarders came together to support Skate for the Troops for its second year, a 25-mile longboard journey from Oceanside to Torrey Pines State Beach.
The longboarders raised $344 on-site through raffle tickets, and representatives from The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund expect more donations online. Last year the longboarders raised approximately $1,200 between raffle ticket sales and online donations.
Derek Smith, a former motor transport operator in the Marine Corps, founded Skate for the Troops last year to support The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
Smith explained that he organized the annual event around the Marine Corps birthday and Veteran’s Day in remembrance of the service and sacrifices made by his brothers and sisters in arms.
Skate for the Troops is not a traditional military charity event. Besides Smith, very few of the supporters have a military background; most simply want to support The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Additionally, Smith and fellow organizers use social networking to advertise, recruit longboarders and raise donations for the event.
“It just started last year and we’re still figuring out ways to get the word out,” said Nick Norton, a member of the Honey Skateboards team.
Throughout the longboard community, Skate for the Troops has not only raised more than a thousand dollars for The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, but has also increased awareness for the needs of veterans.
“[Volunteers] come from all over the country. The longboarding community is tight-knit. Everyone supports each other, like a brotherhood,” said Norton. “We’re doing it for a good cause, to come out and support the military.”
Representatives from The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund were impressed by the youthful nature of Skate for the Troops.
“It’s young people getting together, whereas a lot of our events are retired Marines. I’d like to see more young people doing this,” said Wendy Lethin, a secretary for The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
Skate for the Troops almost tripled its number of participants this year, from 18 longboarders to almost 50. Smith said he hopes to continue more than doubling the numbers year after year.
“Keep passing the stoke!” said Smith with a grin, encouraging more young longboarders to join the cause.
Some might have the wrong impression of the dedicated longboarders, but the supporters of Skate for the Troops will continue to gather each November to donate their time, money and sweat for veterans.