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In the News Index

Source: Philadelphia Weekly
Date: July 27, 2005
Byline: Maggie Serota


Wheels of Fortune

Tony Hawk comes to town to help raise scholarship money for skaters.

On July 29 Tony Hawk brings his Boom Boom Huck Jam tour to the Wachovia Center. The 30-city tour, which showcases skateboarding, motocross and BMX stars, is like a noncompetitive X Games, focusing on exhibiting the talents of such athletes as BMX rider Mat Hoffman, skateboarder Andy MacDonald, motocross rider Drake McElroy and of course Hawk himself.

Although Hawk's been a longtime inspiration to local skaters, his talents and generosity hold a special meaning for local skateboarding rights activist Liz Kerr. Kerr's skateboarding son Patrick was killed in 2002 when he was hit by a truck. He was 15 years old.

In Patrick's honor, Liz founded the Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship to reward high school students who are academic achievers as well as community leaders, ideally working to liberalize skateboarding laws or facilitating the building of public skate parks in their communities.

"It is a unique concept and long overdue," says Hawk via email. "Skaters are overlooked for their talents, both on and off the board. I was happy to help reward their hard work."

Liz Kerr first met Hawk during a stint as a nurse at Camp Woodward, located just outside of State College, Pa., in 1999. Patrick attended the camp, which focuses on instructing kids in gymnastics, skateboarding, in-line skating and BMX biking. It was often visited by pro athletes, including Hawk.

"I was impressed with how he interacted with young kids," says Kerr. "He's a good role model for boys."

Patrick was also impressed with Hawk. But city planner and longtime skateboarding advocate Edmund Bacon was another role model.

As a student at Roman Catholic High School, Patrick tirelessly petitioned and raised funds for the creation of skate parks in the city. "Patrick referred to Edmund Bacon as 'the man,'" says Kerr.

In addition to designing LOVE Park, Bacon was also vehemently opposed to the park being closed to skaters.

"This is the man who said that, 'Instead of treating these children like criminals, we should be welcoming them with lemonade and Tastykakes,'" Kerr recalls.

The scholarship's board includes professional skaters Mike Vallely and Ricky Oyola, as well as Bacon. Hawk also serves on the board and as a key member of the selection committee.

The scholarship-the first specifically designed to benefit skateboarders — attracts a bright and socially active pool of applicants, says Kerr. It's her rebuttal to the stereotype of skateboarders being delinquents and vandals.

"One applicant had a skate park built in the Nez Pierce reservation. Another had a park built in an Army base in Germany," Kerr says.

Hawk admits that choosing among a large pool of deserving applicants is no easy task.

"I study all of the applications and try to get an overall view of the person, taking many factors into consideration," he says. "Grades, artistic passions and community work are all important."

Besides being active in the selection process, Hawk has contributed to the scholarship in other ways. He and fellow skater Vallely have donated money to create additional scholarships within the Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship fund. At the Philly stop of the Boom Boom Huck Jam tour, Hawk will also sign a skateboard to raffle off, with proceeds benefiting the scholarship.

"I'll probably get it signed by other Boom Boom Huck Jam athletes as well," he says.

When pressed to name the most rewarding aspect of his work with the scholarship, Hawk's answer couldn't be simpler: "It's helping skaters get a fair shot."

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