Paying it Forward

Paying it Forward

My mind is on how many people have helped me throughout my life. I am where I am today in large part because of the support and love of my grandparents, who I call Ma & Pa. I’m also the recipient of a whole lot of good will from law officials and judges who held me accountable and also saw me as a human being, capable of change.

It is a great privilege to carry on this good will to others. I try to do this in a lot of ways. One of the most recent ways that gives me a lot of joy is opening Brainerd Skate Company in 2022.

It all started when I learned about a group who were coming together to organize and create a skate park in Brainerd. When I was a kid, BMX riding was one of the healthiest things I did. There’s a big connection between BMX biking and skateboarding, and I wanted to help contribute to creating a safe, fun way for people to hang out in community together, the same way that BMX riding was a healthy part of my childhood and teenage years. By opening a store, I could help provide equipment and inventory at a reasonable cost. My goal was never to make money on the store, but to make sure it could pay its expenses and its employee.

At the grand opening in September 2022, we worked with the city to close the street in front of the shop. The Lakes Area Skatepark Association brought in ramps and equipment for people to ride and hang out. We offered a BBQ lunch for everybody. We weren’t sure how many kids would come. Turns out, the skate community in the area is really tight-knit and they came out in huge numbers. We even had adults hanging out. It was a great community event, focused on fun, healthy activities, and it made me so proud to be a part of that.

The skate park at Memorial Park will take a few years to get going, but having the skate shop in advance will help connect people and build interest, plus offer affordable equipment. The skate park will be set in the large parking lot for the municipal baseball fields. The city donated a chunk of parking lot to make the skatepark. It is outside and beautiful and will provide a great space for community kids.

When we moved from Brainerd to Duluth this year, I donated the store’s inventory to the city by way of Levi Baca. He is now the owner. I gave the business and inventory for free. I was grateful to be able to pass this on so that it will continue to benefit the community in a positive, healthy way.

Here’s a short video about Brainerd Skate Co from Lakeland PBS.

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