Ryan Sheckler: Paying it forward
Words: Robert Brink
Originally intended for 944 magazine this month, this piece never saw the light of day because the mag folded. Enjoy.
Sponsored at 6-years old and pro by age 13, it didn’t take long for San Clemente native, Ryan Sheckler (now 21) to reach the top of the game in skateboarding—and subsequently cross over to a mainstream success that 99.9% of his industry cannot fathom and most certainly won’t ever experience.
Sheckler was the youngest professional skateboarder to have a signature model shoe. He’s won multiple X Games gold medals, had his own reality show on MTV, achieved teen heartthrob status, sealed endorsement deals from Got Milk, Axe, Proactiv and more, scored roles in movies with the likes of The Rock and appeared on stage at a ‘Lil Wayne concert.
So what’s left when you’ve done everything there is to do before you’re even old enough to legally buy a pack of American Spirits?
Pay it forward.
And that’s what Ryan and The Sheckler Foundation have been doing for the last four years.
“In 2008 I wanted to donate my car to charity,” Sheckler says. “We held an online auction and raised $220,000. I realized in the process that we had a huge following who also wanted to help others. We knew if we started our own foundation, we could activate these followers and really make a difference.”
The Sheckler Foundation aims to create awareness and raise money to fund medical research that focuses on curing childhood disease and spinal cord injuries, as well as enrichment programs for kids in underprivileged communities.
“We want to let people, especially the kids of today, know that anyone can give back and that we all need to,” Ryan explains. “The world can never have too many people giving back.”
Since it’s inception, The Sheckler Foundation has partnered with organizations like the Rob Dyrdek Skate Plaza Foundation, Wings for Life, TACA, Road 2 Recovery, Bridger Hunt Fund, Tony Hawk Stand Up for Skateparks, San Diego Medicine Foundation, ARF, CCRF (Children’s Cancer Research Fund), A-Skate Foundation and Stoked Mentoring Foundation.
“We’ve done several different types of events over the years,” Sheckler explains. “The charity golf tournament and Skate for a Cause are two of our most successful and fun events. I really enjoyed our charity MMA fight as well. ‘Lil Jon performed and Jason Ellis turned pro that night. We are also planning on having a gala later this year, so I’m interested to see the outcome.”
Ryan is currently working on his Plan B skate video part, mostly likely dropping before the end of the year. It's got the lovers, haters and every online skateboarding forum lit up. But are there enough hours in the day to juggle the foundation and the skate career?
“Skating and giving back have always been a priority for me,” Ryan says. “At the moment, the video is the biggest thing on my mind, but I’m loving my life and doing what makes me happy—traveling the world and helping people through my foundation. It’s all a blessing so there really isn’t anything difficult to speak of. I don’t feel I’m juggling anything.”
Sheckler aims high. And with a track record of success like his, why not? “There are so many great foundations out there,” he says, “I’d like our foundation to go the route of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And my hope is that everyone gets to experience what it feels like to give back because the takeaway is amazing!”
The Sheckler Foundation will soon be launching the Passion Project, which gives the Foundation’s community an opportunity to nominate a need and the Foundation will mobilize to help solve the problem. For more information and to learn how to get involved with upcoming events, visit www.shecklerfoundation.org.