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Skateboard cause gets some gnarly air

 


Local skateboard enthusiast Ben Hughes has already received outreach from skateboarding companies after The Star published an article about his ambition to improve on the current skateboarding culture.

“The article that was in the paper (‘Skateboarding scene could grow in the coulee’) is a testament to how the internet works,” Hughes, a commissioner of the Coulee Area Park and Recreation District, said at their Aug. 6 meeting.

“I named Zumiez in the article, and someone at Zumiez forwarded it on to someone who forwarded it on, and they contacted me,” Hughes explained. “And other skateboard companies from Southern California have contacted me about what they can do to help.”

Hughes, once sponsored by Zumiez as a skater, also worked for the major skate- and snowboarding company, and among other things had helped start a cultural foundation in Las Vegas to help troubled youth find guidance and shelter, and start skateboard teams at school.

“So we’re starting to get the ball rolling,” Hughes continued, noting he is expecting to receive a lot of free related clothing and skateboarding gear, including boards, trucks, wheels, and bearings.

“The reason they are sending me skateboard stuff and clothes is because I said we want to do a positive thing in the community,” with a structure similar to what he had set up in Las Vegas, Hughes told the commission.

Hughes would like the clothes and gear he receives from skateboard companies to provide back-to-school clothes for those in need, and for the gear to go to kids who would have to meet certain criteria such as maintaining a certain grade-point average, reading a book each month, and doing some community service.

“Have them do community hours in the park, two cleanups in the fall and spring,” Commissioner Bob Vallen suggested at the meeting.

Like all the other commissioners, Hughes volunteers on the CAPRD board. He is currently the patient access manager at Coulee Medical Center.

Hoping to raise $200,000 in the next year or so, Hughes is anticipating that skateboard companies will be able to donate toward the skateboarding scene at the end of the fiscal year. He hopes to hear from popular companies such as Element, Independent, Santa Cruz, and Stereo, among others.

“Zumiez is seeing where I’m at,” Hughes said. “We have a good relationship. They’re going to help leverage some of that.”

With that money, Hughes would like to build new obstacles at the skatepark at North Dam, organize competitions, and more.

He has been making connections with local skateboarders to help with the developing project.

Anyone interested in helping Hughes with the project can contact him at hughespuzzle@gmail.com.

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