Orange Crush: Joe Lopes Benefit Contest
On Saturday, April 20th, we hosted a contest and barbeque in Joe Lopes' honor. About 280 people came to skate, eat, drink, and enjoy. There were a lot of people who had bought Joe's board when they were young, and we all traded Joe stories if we had 'em. Paul Schmitt told me that one time Joe was interviewed and was asked "What's your favorite part of all of this, the skateboarding, the barbequing, the traveling?" and Joe simply responded "Life." Pretty poignant, now. For eight hours the backyard was a mess of people of all ages and eras, somehow involved in skateboarding and all touched by Joe's contributions: good times were his main thing, and skateboarding was a major tool towards that end for Joe. That was what prompted him to hold the first ever backyard contest, "Joe's Ramp Jam," and to have a skateboard graphic with a guy grilling a steak. Thirty skateboarders rode the spine and hips, and the roof, and in the end the obvious choice put Joe Lopes in first place. $1250 went to Joe's trust fund for first place, and all the skaters were bumped one spot in the prize money to enable that. Neil Heddings took home $1000 and was the first place skater besides Joe. Chad Vogt, Brian Patch, Kyle Yanigomoto, and Riky Barnes rounded out the top five. Others in the prize money were John Ponts, Al Partenan, Patrick Melcher, Ryan Wilburn, and Jeff Grosso in 7th to 11th, and Scott Taylor, Mike Manzoori, Tode Freud, Carlos DeAndrade, Sam Hitz, and Jerry Hafner in 12th to 16th. Most of these guys donated some or all their winnings to Joe's family. Between the first place cash, the donations from guys like Riky Barnes, Jeff Grosso, Chad Vogt, Kyle Yangomoto, and Carlos DeAndrade, and the donations dropped in the kitty, we were able to raise over $2200 for Joe's family!
This whole event would not have been possible if it weren't for the visionaries at Etnies (Beau Brown and Don Brown), Foundation Skateboards (Tod Swank, Mike Page), Pig Wheels (Josh Beagle), and Split Clothing (Skip, Andy, Kate and Dave). Thanks for having faith in me to do this. The barbeque idea came together through the guys at Element. Bod Boyle and Steve Douglas both came to America in the early eighties and stayed with Joe in San Leandro--he took them in and gave them a place to stay and skate and kickstart their skateboard careers. Bod and Steve were integral in making the barbeque happen, and I thank you guys for the support, and the help, and for letting me be part of something good for an old friend and teammate. Thanks also to my sister Laura and nephew Taylor for allowing the entire thing to be part of their lives so willingly and gracefully for several weeks of preparation and one day of fun and chaos.