Friday, July 22, 2011

On a mission: Bring new skateboards to Cuba

Posted on Thursday, 07.21.11
Coconut Grove

On a mission: Bring new skateboards to Cuba

Two skateboarding brother and two friends are bringing new boards to
kids in Cuba. They even want to build a skating ramp.
For more information Skateboards for Cuba , go to the group's Facebook page: SFC-Skateboards-For-Cuba/171973836155431
or follow them on Twitter:!/SkateForCuba

To donate to Skateboards for Cuba, call: 305-962-0073 or email
U/Miami News Service

Daniel Abril likes the sound of the wheels rolling down the road then
smacking onto the pavement after he jumps a curb. At 27, the avid
skateboarder knows what it means to be passionate about the street sport.

That's why he had no problem giving his board away — in Cuba.

"Cuba has zero skate shops," said Abril, who was in Havana last year on
a business trip with his 30-year-old brother, Joshua. They observed the
patinetas — Spanish for skateboarders — riding makeshift boards held
together with nails.

"If they break their board they either get a piece of plywood and put it
together or have to wait for another. Who knows how long?" Daniel Abril

The Abril brothers were in Cuba in May 2010 working on a TV pilot, Couch
Surfing World, a travel reality show they hope to pitch to the networks.
After they watched the Cuban skateboarders, they returned to Coconut
Grove with a mission: Get skateboards to the island.

The Abrils, along with two friends — skateboarding pros Nick Katz and
Stephen Kough — took skateboards and supplies to Cuba in December. They
are planning a return trip this December.

"I knew that if we were going to go, the things that we were going to
see would be eye opening and that the things we were going to do for the
people there were going to have a certain impact on me," said Katz, 21,
a college junior at the New World School of the Arts at Miami Dade College.

The foursome sought sponsors from their connections in the skateboarding
world and donations from South Florida skate shops. In less than six
months, the group had skateboards and parts, including decks, trucks,
wheels, bearings, skate tools and two skate videos.

Destructo Trucks, a skateboard truck manufacturer, donated care packages
to pass out as freebies. Stuffing their duffle bags with some clothes
and decks, the four headed to Havana on Dec. 14.

"When we showed up I think every skateboarder in Havana was out there,"
Joshua Abril said. A skater, who asked to be identified only as Che,
helped them plan a skate competition at the intersection of Calle G y
Veinte-trés. About 200 patinetas and spectators came out.

"The Cubans have their own unique style," he said. "It's more about
skate the way you like instead of the way you see on TV or the way
people teach you.''

During the competition, a 14-year-old kid named Ivan was eliminated
after the first round.

"He actually came in fourth place, which doesn't qualify for a prize,
but he was so good for his age that we gave him a board anyway," Daniel
Abril said.

"After we gave him the board, the kid was so happy he began pacing back
and fourth as if he couldn't hold in his excitement," he added. "It was
like he was holding back tears of joy."

For their next trip, the four are planning bigger giveaways and raising
money to build a skating ramp in Havana.

"We want to leave something great, like a pro-vert ramp, or something to
that effect that the kids can use and practice on after we leave,''
Abril said.

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