Saturday, November 05, 2005
MAKE-A-WISH Rocks Adio
Today Southside Skatepark hosted the annual Texas Skate Jam. It's a skateboarding exposition/contest with proceeds benefiting the Make-A-Wish foundation. There were tons of kids there to watch the group of professional skaters who flew in from all over the country. I'm sure it was a good day for Make-A-Wish, I know it was a great day for Johnny.
A couple of weeks ago while we were at Ohana Surf Shop in Galveston, Boog asked Johnny if he wanted to go to the Jam. Of course Johnny said "yes", so Boog got in touch with his friend, Damian, who was organizing the event for Make-A-Wish and made arrangements for Johnny to attend the Jam as a Make-A-Wish kid. I thought that was cool. Then Damian called this week and asked if Johnny wanted to show up a little early and spend some time skating with a couple of pros. I thought that was very cool.
We got down to the skatepark at about 9am (two hours before the doors were to open to the public) and there was already a line of kids waiting to get in snaking around the building. We quickly found Damian, and he introduced us to Jeff Taylor who is the Director of Marketing for Adio Footwear. Jeff invited us into the park and said a couple of the pros from his team would be there shortly. I had barely gotten everyone's kneepads out when Jeff returned with Kenny Anderson, Steve Nesser, Ernie Torres, and Alex Chalmers. These guys are truly incredible skaters, and turned out to be great with the kids. At first both Johnny and Joey were a little quiet and shy, but when Kenny gave Johnny a new skateboard he lit up quite a bit. I think Johnny was a little "skate shy" because he just got out of the hospital the day before yesterday and hasn't really been able to skate since he started back up on his chemo. I know he wanted to impress these guys, but a lot of the medications he takes seem to have a negative effect on his strength and balance and he didn't want to kook out in front of anyone. Kenny and a couple of the other guys finally got Johnny to play follow-the-leader around the park a few times and Johnny started loosening up and having a good time. We had at least an hour and a half with the Adio team in the park to ourselves. If you can't relate to skating just think spending that same amount of time playing catch with Roger Clemmens, or throwing the football around with Brett Farvre. It would not have been better.
Jeff, and Adio, should be really proud of the team. I was really impressed with all the pros, and how they interacted with Johnny. Although these guys are skaters, you could hardly call them kids. They were all very mature and seemed interested in making sure Johnny had a good time. Alex was especially interested in Johnny's story, and he spent a lot of time connecting with me and Joey while Johnny was off with the other skaters. I didn't see him skate much which was too bad because the guy is super good, but it was really cool hanging out with him for a while. Before we left Alex told Johnny that if he looses his hair during chemo he can have his (he recently cut his very long, and apparently somewhat famous, hair and is keeping it in a baggy at his house) to make a wig. I'm really hoping it doesn't come to that, but it would be kind of funny to see Johnny skating around with an Alex Chalmers, butt length, wig. It's been a really, really long time since I knew who was who in the world of skateboarding (although I did hear that Tony Hawk grew up and became kind of a big deal), but from now on Johnny and I will be huge fans of these guys.
When everyone finished skating Damian wanted a couple of pictures taken in front of the Texas Skate Jam Banner. I think this may have been the highlight of the day for both Johnny and his brother Joey. Picture the two of them surrounded by some of the best skaters in the world (who by this time included Tony Trujillo) having there picture taken in front of hundreds of kids waiting to get in the park and watch their heros skate. Johnny was beaming!
This was a great event. Although I've been writing about Johnny I can with much certainty say that this was a great day for a lot of kids. Everyone I saw was having a great time, and there was a very positive vibe to the whole event. It was a great time for a great cause!
Thanks again to Boog, Damian, Jeff, Jim, the Adio team, Tony Trujillo, and everyone else who helped make Johnny's wish come true. Although he tries to be cool about everything he has been lit up the whole day, and I'm sure this will help keep his spirits up though the next couple of months. Since he starts the roughest part of his treatment next week this could not have happened at a better time.
BTW, I think the time with the pros may have rubbed off on him a little. While we were leaving the event today a kid walked up to Johnny and asked him to sign his board. I expected Johnny to ask "why?", but instead he just took the board and asked "Do you have a pen?"