By Michelle Esposito – The top three Dew Tour vert skaters, Bucky Lasek, Andy Macdonald and Pierre-Luc Gagnon lined the deck of the vert ramp on Saturday to skate with the past, present and future of the sport, all for the cause of crushing cancer.
The crowds at San Diego's Clash at Clairemont demo and fundraiser went crazy when Tony Hawk and Macdonald were doing doubles with synchronized inverts, Madonnas and switching boards. They screamed when Lyn-Z Adams, the only girl to land a 540, came close to riding away from one on her many attempts that day. Dew Tour skater Josh Stafford was pushing progression too with numerous close attempts at landing a 900. Ryan Decenzo, Jake Duncombe and other pros also put on a good demo on the street course. There was also a heated session in the bowl after the vert.
Mike Rogers, skater, cancer survivor and man behind Grind for Life
Macdonald started this event four years ago as a way to raise money for the skatepark and join forces to benefit Grind for Life, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to cancer patients.
"That way I could call all my buddies up and say come to a free demo and donate your time," Macdonald said. "It turned out to be one of the biggest, best demos in the history of skateboarding. That was what kicked it off four years ago, and here we are four years later. We usually raise about $20,000 for the skate park and for Grind for Life."
Mike Rogers is a skater and the inspiration behind Grind For Life, which has a booth in Dew Tour's Festival Village each year.
"We've done all four of the final stops in Orlando and we're going to be out in Vegas at the Hard Rock," Rogers said. "We'll be out there educating people like we've been since the Dew Tour started."
He is a two-time sarcoma survivor, a rare form of cancer. He was first diagnosed in 1978 when he was 12 and the cancer returned 25 years later when he was 37.
"So we use that story about getting through the illness, doing the right things afterwards, and then we help you financially when you're traveling long distances like out of state or specialized cancer care," Rogers said. "There's not a lot of support out there. People that have rare cancers a lot of times don't have that opportunity to have that money but we make it available so they can get the treatments they need."
Dueling Madonnas by Andy Macdonald and Tony Hawk
The event even brought the old-school moves of 48-year-old Duane Peters to life on the vert ramp. He tried everything from sketchy tail drops to an attempt to transfer into an invert from a low point to a higher point on the ramp.
"I'm not a modern guy," Peters said. "Realistically I've never gone down one of those shoot things like that. So I was really wondering if I could make a taildrop on that."
But he heard the guys would be skating and he wanted to come out and support Grind for Life.
"I don't got any of these new tricks so you gotta think of daredevil shit," Peters said. "I don't know if I've ever invert revert roll-in revert or whatever it's called off that much vert. It's Joe Strummer saying, 'You gotta put yourself on trial all the time.' I think it applies to everything in life."
Dew Tour riders Alex Perelson, Rob Lorifice, Andy Macdonald & Marcelo Bastos surround Tony Hawk
Dew Tour BMX'er Simon Tabron was riding at the Clash, and a vert ramp full of skaters was no deterrent for him. Since relocating to Southern California he's been riding Clairemont and private ramps with a crew of vert skaters on a regular basis. However, he's cautious to say if it will give him an advantage for the upcoming Dew Tour season.
"Since I moved down here I'm just having such a good time with all these good ramps," Tabron said. "My riding is progressing a lot because of it, but as far as the contests, I'm kind of philosophical right now. I'm just gonna go out there, see how I feel, see what happens. No big statements or ambitions. Just let it come to me."
But there is one move he's sure about – the Dew Tour finals in Vegas.
"That's the best news ever!" Tabron said. "With all due respect to Orlando, or no due respect to Orlando, I'm so happy we don't have to go back there. I'm very happy that we do get to go to Vegas. I think I tweeted about that the day of the Dew Tour announcement, it was, 'Vegas. Dew Tour. Genius.'"