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Tony Hawk partnering with Vans to support Carlsbad small business during pandemic

From custom slip-ons to a private skate lesson, here's how you can join Tony Hawk in helping out those in need.

CARLSBAD, Calif. —

San Diego County native, Tony Hawk, is spending this stay-at-home order similarly to all of us.

“I don’t have a lot of travel plans coming up, I’ll tell you that,” said Hawk. 

Quarantine or not, the skateboarding legend spent "National Do a Kickflip Day" on Wednesday exactly how you’d expect him to - hanging out with his daughter and skateboarding outside. 

“What’s the first thing that you’re going to do when it’s safe to go out in public again?” News 8 asked. 

“[Go] out to dinner!” said Hawk with a smile.

Rather than daydreaming about everyday outings many of us probably took for granted, Hawk’s dedicating time to helping out businesses and organizations that need support to survive. That’s why he’s partnered with Vans for the “Foot the Bill” initiative.

“It’s an initiative by Vans to help some of the challenged shops of our industry, mostly skate and surf shops. A lot of them have to shut their doors - at least for now. Some are at risk of never opening again,” said Hawk.

The struggle is a familiar one for small business owners. Witt Rowlett, the shop's owner, said he's applied for small business loans, but is having trouble actually receiving them.

When someone buys a custom pair of shoes from the collection, the net proceeds go to a respective local business. Hawk chose Witt’s Carlsbad Pipelines on Carlsbad Blvd.

Credit: Vans/The Tony Hawk Foundation

“Witts was my very first skate shop sponsor back in 1984, [19] 85? Witts has been a staple of this area for a long time - always really supportive. I always try to send people there when they’re in town. He’s just trying to keep his doors open through all of this and this is the least I could do,” said Hawk. 

Witt designed the shoe, featuring a classic photo of Hawk skating at Del Mar Skate Ranch in 1984.  

Credit: Jaimie Muehlhausen, the Tony Hawk Foundation

“We took a photo of me from back in those days with a sticker of his on my board. The shoe actually looks pretty cool. It looks more like a Hawaiian slip-on just because it’s all 80’s colors,” said Hawk. 

Hawk is also participating in the “ALL IN” Challenge. People can enter to win a private skate lesson or even performance from Hawk once it’s safe for people to interact again. All of the proceeds go to four charities like Feeding America and No Kid Hungry. 

"In a little more than two weeks, the ALL IN Challenge has raised over $25 million," Seth Schletcher, a spokesperson for the campaign, told News 8 on Thursday.

“It’s more of a personal experience,” said Hawk. 

Of course, the Tony Hawk Foundation is still continuing its mission during this COVID-19 pandemic, although that hasn’t been without challenges. 

“It’s harder to raise funds,” said Hawk. “It’s hard to raise awareness.” 

The Vista-based foundation helps to provide access to skate parks in underserved areas, including parks in Oceanside, downtown San Diego, and Imperial Beach. 

Credit: The Tony Hawk Foundation
Tony Hawk at the ribbon cutting for the Compton Skatepark, which had received a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation.

“I sense that we are going to need facilities like our public skate parks more than ever once we move towards getting more social,” said Hawk. 

While Hawk understands why social distancing guidelines are important for keeping people safe, he’s looking forward to the day kids can hit San Diego County’s skate parks again and find a sense of belonging. 

“Those are great meeting places,” said Hawk. “Those are great parts of the community and they serve kids who feel disenfranchised - kids who find skateboarding. Maybe they don’t fit into other sports, but they really thrive with the culture.”

Additionally, Hawk hopes you’ll join him in supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. 

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