Greater Cincinnati's Dad Skate Squad is trying to make "Christmas a tad more rad for area kids" this year.
The group of 40-plus skateboarding dads (and sometimes their kids) started riding together each week during COVID with the goal of "spreading positivity and good vibes in our communities and putting smiles on peoples’ faces."
This holiday they're doing just that by transforming into the "Santa Skate Squad," donating new skateboards, skate shoes, helmets and other accessories to kids in need.
Co-founder Robbie Reider says via email that the Dad Skate Squad started after he and his friend JonBob Willis grabbed their kids' longboards and "kick-pushed our way down the street" to grab a drink at a local gas station. Reider says the duo realized that after being friends for almost two decades, they had never truly skated together — so they did just that. The next week, they invited a friend to join them on a ride.
"Each Wednesday more dads showed up until it was a 'thing,'" says Reider. "So, why did we found DSS? Because being a Dad can be tiring, isolating and sometimes it’s great to ride a skateboard with some old and new friends."
In terms of how the dads decided to give back?
"One of the dads in the squad, Jason Margerum, mentioned that skateboarding had been an important part of his childhood and that it kept him out of trouble and gave him a sense of enjoyment when lots of other stuff wasn’t fun. He thought maybe the squad dads could buy a board or two for some kids around the city," says Reider.
Margerum posed the holiday campaign to the Dad Skate Squad this fall and it took off. So far, the crew has raised $3,000 via GoFundMe and Facebook campaigns, as well as direct donations, to get skate swag. The dads also got support from locals Blacklist Boardshop, Westwood Skateboarding, Galaxie Skate Shop, Unheard Of, Cincinnati Cruiser and national brand DC shoes.
Right now, Reider says they have 26 boards, helmets, pads, shoes and "loads of shirts and swag for kids," with donations still coming in.
The Dad/Santa Skate Squad be handing out their skateboards and accessories at the CityLink Center Christmas Market (800 Bank St., West End) 2:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 16 and Dec. 17.
"We’re partnering with CityLink because of the ongoing work they do to help families grow out of poverty and live sustainably," says Reider. "They’re best-in-class at equipping people in a dignified way. The people who graduate the CityLink program have skills to weather the storms that life throws and change systemic poverty in their family lines."
Reider says they have also partnered with the Brighton Center in Northern Kentucky, as well as some other outlets, to donate boards.
"These are kids who love to skateboard but may not have the means to get new gear," says Reider. "Between community and youth services organizations and our connections, we’re hooking up kids who will enjoy a sweet new deck and some skate swag."
You can still donate to help their cause at gofundme.com/f/santaskatesquad.
"In the midst of all the effects of the pandemic — isolation, anxiety, cabin fever, you name it — skateboarding with friends has been an amazing gift. We adults have more control over our lives and sometimes better coping mechanisms than kids. For a lot of us, skating is as good as a good therapy session and it’s a lot cheaper, too," says Reider. "To quote Willy Wonka speaking to Charlie near the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: 'So shines a good deed in a weary world.' We hope that skateboards bring some goodness into the weary world of a good kid."
Follow the Dad Skate Squad at instagram.com/dadskatesquad for more info.