Ryan Sheckler, skate pros thrill fans, help autism group
LAKE FOREST - More than 1,000 skate fans filled Etnies Skatepark of Lake Forest to watch some of the nation's top pros ride the rails and catch big air Saturday in a skate contest that raised funds for Autism Speaks.
The event, hosted by professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler and Etnies, featured 30 skaters who competed for a total prize purse of $15,000 in three best-trick contests. The contests included three jam sessions and the rider with the best tricks on each of the park's obstacles won the event. The event is the Sheckler Foundation's second annual Skate for a Cause.
"I just think it's great to be able to help kids with autism," said Sheckler, 21, of San Clemente. "I used to live next door to a child who had autism. She was always happy and really smart. We're just going out there to have fun and give a great day to the kids."
Riders came from all over to participate.
They included Billy Marks, Brandon Biebel, Chad Bartie, Chris Cole, Colin McKay, Corbin Harris, Danny Way, Dave Hackett, Fabrizio Santos of Santa Ana, Greg Lutzka of Mission Viejo, Jake Brown, James Craig, Jason Ellis, Joey Brezinski, Jordan Hoffart, Jose Rojo, Kurtis Colamonico, Kevin Roma, Kyle Leeper, Lance Mountain, Neal Mims, Pat Duffy, PJ Ladd, Rob Dyrdek, Ronnie Creager of Yorba Linda, Ryan Decenzo of Huntington Beach, Ryan Sheckler of San Clemente, Sasha Steinhorst, Sean Malto, Sean Sheffey, Shane O'Neill, Shane Sheckler of San Clemente, Steve Caballero, Tony Tave, Torey Pudwill and Tyler Hendley of Mission Viejo.
Don Brown, senior vice president of marketing for Etnies, said he was proud to help sponsor Sheckler's event.
"When Etnies first started 25 years ago, it was always important for us to give back to the community," Brown said. "I first sponsored (Sheckler) when he was 7 years old. It's been great to see him grow up and take skateboarding to a whole new level, and he's doing it for a great cause."
The event also included demonstrations and a carnival with games and activities. Hundreds of kids, ages 2 and up, tried their hand at skate-oriented games at the festival.
Twin sisters Skylar and Starla Thomas, 8, of Aliso Viejo, won skate T-shirts after knocking down cans in an agility contest. Both girls skate but Skylar is the more daring, the sisters agreed.
"It's neat when she does a flip," Starla said about Skylar. "She's the better one. I skate, but ride around on a scooter, too."
Both couldn't wait to see Sheckler skate.
Breanna Henderson, from Portola Hills, came with her mother and brother. They wanted to watch Greg Lutzka, who lives next door to Breanna's great grandma in Mission Viejo.
But Breanna's main reason to come was to support Autsim Speaks. Her mom works with children with autism and she's Big Buddy afterschool at Trabuco Mesa Elementary in Rancho Santa Margarita.
"It's neat to be around them because they're really fun," she said about children with autism. "They love to work with me and they sometimes listen to me more than the teachers. I get to play teacher sometimes."
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