My son AJ is a skateboard fanatic.
I'm intrigued by this whole skateboarding craze because I don't remember even seeing a skateboard when I was a kid. Back then, I used to think skateboards were just a dumb '50s thing for poor kids who couldn't afford cool bikes. I had no idea you could develop complex skills and perform acrobatic tricks on them.
It stands to reason why I was not exposed to this sport as a youngster. Besides the fact that I lived on a gravel road, Duluth at that time had no skateboard shops, no skateboard parks and no skateboard advocates. It's much different now.
The Twin Cities have several indoor/outdoor skate parks and dozens of specialty shops. In fact, for AJ's 14th birthday, we bought him a full week of skateboard camp to the 3rd Lair where he skated hard for 5 hours a day and came home with a whole new set of skills.
However, in St. Cloud we only have one skate park, which is a small indoor-only business that the kids have to pay for. This, of course, is better than nothing but not good enough for my son. Ever since he's been to other towns with public (city owned) skate parks, he has been on a mission... to get a public skate park here in St. Cloud.
To that end, my son will stop at nothing to see his dream come true. In fact, just the other day at our city's 150th birthday/4th of July celebration, AJ spotted the mayor dressed in his ceremonial garb just getting ready to step up on the stage and give his speech. Before I could figure out what he was up to, he had already dashed over to him and began stating his case.
Surprisingly, the mayor was very respectful of AJ's concern, and even handed him a business card and asked him to make an appointment to discuss it further.
That was all he needed.
This entire past week, AJ has spent every waking minute in front of the computer compiling statistics on skatepark square footage, designs, costs, and grant foundations. Never before have I seen a 14 year old so focused on a mission. Every detail had been considered. Every reference had been noted. Every picture had been printed - and as of last night at midnight the final proposal was in hand.
Then today at 1:30, AJ headed down the hallway of our own City Hall, all by himself, to meet with the mayor.
At 2:30 AJ called me on the phone - so excited I could barely understand him.
"Dad! You're never gonna believe this! The mayor LOVED my proposal!"
It was true. Not only did the mayor love his ideas, but by the time he was finished, the mayor had actually asked him to become of member of the St. Cloud Park and Rec Board and begin immediately by attending the next board meeting tomorrow night. He then summoned in the city photographer for this publicity shot.
A few hours later this email arrived in his mailbox (actual names edited for privacy):
----- Original Message -----
Now, I'm not saying that this whole thing is a slam dunk. There's a lot of hard work yet to be done, a lot of doors to knock on and a ton of obstacles to overcome. But I can't help but have faith in a kid with a dream.
And trust me on this one - nobody dreams bigger than AJ.