By Tom Reardon
For some children, holding their own skateboard would be something akin to a Christmas miracle.
If you want to help a child’s holiday dream come true, there is an awesome opportunity for you to make a difference by partnering with Cowtown S.K.A.T.E.’s Skateboard Angel program.
Skateboards serve so many purposes: transportation, exercise, sport, a certain panache … and it’s all there for the taking when you’ve got a board of your own. You can go anywhere and if you practice enough, you can do a lot of cool things, but let’s be honest. They are also not cheap.
Sure, you can still buy an inexpensive board at Walmart if you’re so inclined, and as Trent Martin of Cowtown S.K.A.T.E. (501c3 Non-Profit Organization) and Cowtown Skateboards said, “Gramma might not know that those boards are not that great. She’s just doing something nice and maybe doing the best she can.”
Typically, a nice, rideable skateboard can be anywhere from $120 to $175 dollars. This price is dependent on the type of equipment you are putting together as it is not just the board (which is often called a “deck”) that needs to be considered, but also the wheels and trucks (which is bolted to the “deck” and supports the wheels), as well.
There are also the bearings that go in the wheels to help them rotate smoothly, and the grip tape for the top of the “deck” so your feet don’t easily slide off, and riser pads to provide space between the trucks and the board itself to help create enough room to properly turn the board, especially for those who like to skate as if they are riding a surfboard.
Martin and his partners are doing their best this year to help Gramma, as well as several local charitable organizations including One-In-ten, provide good quality skateboards to children who otherwise would not be able to afford one through their Skateboard Angel program. For $55 (plus tax), Cowtown will put together a complete skateboard and donate it to one of the charitable organizations they are working with this year. Donors can stipulate which organization they would like a board to go to or Cowtown will spread them out evenly to the organizations they serve.
Started in 2017, Skateboard Angel has now provided well over 1000 skateboards to local kids through donations from individual citizens, businesses, and through partnering with community groups. Martin is humble about it, for sure, but he also puts his money where his mouth is and whether it’s on a personal level or through his retail business to make sure each agency Skateboard Angel works with gets some boards to give to children who enjoy skateboarding already or want to learn.
“They get a good quality board. These kids are stoked. They get to give skateboarding a chance, we wanted to partner with the Christmas Angel program at the mall but trying to facilitate that was difficult. We put $120 worth of parts into each skateboard and we sell them for $55. We wanted to give the general public the same advantage that we have as a shop to be able to donate a complete, quality skateboard to a kid that needs it,” says Martin.
For the unfamiliar, Cowtown Skateboards opened their first location in January of 1997, just off the northwest corner of Camelback and Central in Phoenix selling skateboards, clothing, shoes, and accessories. Over the years, the company has expanded to four locations and earlier this year, started their own non-profit, Cowtown S.K.A.T.E., as well. Starting Cowtown S.K.A.T.E. was a natural progression for now 23-year-old company as they have been involved in charitable acts since the beginning.
“In the beginning, we did fundraisers and events to help fund Desert West (a skateboard plaza in the West Valley). Desert West opened in May of 1997 and we just continued to do fundraisers. It’s been a never-ending project. There’s been a ripple effect, since then, and Scottsdale, Chandler, and even Flagstaff started building parks. We’ve talked about having a non-profit for 15 to 20 years ago but finally got it going in August of this year,” says Martin over the phone.
In addition to creating Skateboard Angel, Martin and his partners are working with the City of Phoenix to build a skateboard plaza in Solano Park just south of the Christown Spectrum Mall. Cowtown S.K.A.T.E. will be responsible for raising all of the funds for the park over the next several years but this, like Skateboard Angel, is clearly a labor of love for Martin and the Cowtown family.
“We did five hundred skateboards last year through Skateboard Angel and we don’t see why we can’t do 500 again,” says Martin.
If you want to help, please check out CowtownSKATE.org for more information on Skateboard Angel or visit one of the four Cowtown Skateboards shops around the valley.