Team skateboards across country to raise funds for Alzheimer’s cure

NEW ULM – It sounds like a Hollywood script for a classic inspiration story: a group of highly skilled, notable skateboarders battling the outdoor elements to complete the gigantic task of skating all the way across the United States to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.

But this scenario is reality: the five skaters of the “Push to Remember” stopped in New Ulm on Friday evening after completing half of their epic 3,400 mile journey.

Starting on July 7 in Waldport, Ore., the team has been skateboaring alongside all kinds of roads in all kinds of weather in pursuit of raising thousands in funding for the Alzheimer’s Association while they make their way to New York City. The team has already climbed as high as 9,033 feet in Wyoming during their skating and faced up to 15 mph headwinds most of their journey due to the current summer weather.

The team

The skating team behind “A Push to Remember” is a group of well-known and experienced skaters from all over the country:

Jack Smith, 56, of California, a renowned skater who has completed this journey three times before, helped organize the team. He is riding this year in memory of his father, who passed away from Alzheimer’s last year.

His previous skateboarding trips across the United States started for fun with his friends in 1976. When he took the trip again in 1984 to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis, his team broke the world distance record for crossing the United States by six days (making it in 26 days). In his last prior trip, his team was part of the “Skateboarding Across America-On Board for Lowe Syndrome” fundraising and managed to establish another world record of 21 days. He said the 2003 trip was very personal to him because his oldest son died of the rare Lowe Syndrome.

He is also the publisher of Skateboarder’s Journal and the founder of the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum. He made an appearance in the skateboarding film “Lords of Dogtown.”

Dylan Smith, 21, of Colorado, is Jack’s son and an accomplished competitive longboarder. He is similarly performing this trek in his grandfather’s memory.

Marc Juvinall, 27, of California, has skated across the United States twice and broke the one-mile skateboard push record in 2011, just before breaking it again in 2012.

Colleen Pellech, 23, of New York, is set to be in the Guiness book of World Records for holding the women’s skateboarding distance record of 167 miles in 24 hours.

Melanie Castro, 20, of Florida, has been placing high in competitive skateboarding push races since 2010, never placing lower than third place.

The team is backed up with a driver for the vehicle and videographer who is charting their journey. The driver is utilized for the team’s relay system approach. The system involves the driver going two-miles ahead of the first skater and dropping off the second skater. When the first skater reaches the van, it pulls ahead another two miles and drops off the next skater while waiting to pickup the prior one. The system allows for maximum efficiency and speed in the cross country journey.

The road and the goal

The members of the team said they mostly did not know each other starting out, but they quickly became friends by bonding over unique challenges, such as less road space in the densely populated eastern states or how quickly they wore out their shoes. Juvinall said the beauty of the land they witness and the friendliness of the people they met made it a humbling experience.

The team was given top-line gear by skateboarding sponsors and helped fund the cost side of the trip through a crowd fundraising website Indiegogo. They received two custom, limited-edition skateboards for the trip: one from Rayne Longboards and one from Bustin Boards Custom Longboards. One of these skateboards is set to be given to the Smithsonian Institute at the completion of the trip, while the other will be auctioned off to raise further funds for Alzheimer’s research.

The team will depart from New Ulm early this morning to continue their journey. People interested in donating to the cause or learning more about the project can visit

Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at

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