Skating along the trail with the summer breeze running through his hair and tanning under the bright Florida sun, senior Elliott Smith pondered his place in the community. Hoping to make a difference, he brought the idea up to his friends to create a service club intended to raise money through one of their favorite hobbies: longboarding.
“Longboarding is a new, upcoming sport that is different,” said Smith. “There are many people involved and it is a great way to meet new people.”
LONGing for Hope is a service club devoted to assisting charities through longboarding races and community support that so far has raised $500. They donate to charities such as Amazing
Love Ministries, a homeless outreach program, and Servants in Faith and Technology, a program for Christian leaders to raise awareness of global issues.
Smith is involved in the youth group at Van Dyke Farms, where he was first introduced to the founders of the charities LONGing for Hope donates to.
“We chose those charities because they both make positive impacts in their communities,” said Smith.
Smith has been involved with longboarding since his friends first introduced him to it. He has been longboarding for three years now and occasionally competes in local longboarding competitions.
Smith got the inspiration for the club through an experience he had over summer break. After playing soccer for almost nine years, he came across the chance to go on a mission trip to Colombia. While there, he practiced soccer with other kids and became involved in the Colombian community. When he wasn’t practicing soccer, Smith helped build a new stadium.
“I helped coach and train younger teams and trained with the 11-20 [year old’s] team. The days I didn’t have practice, I helped work on the stadium they are building,” said Smith. “I realized that, as a country, we are not better than anybody else. We are not any more privileged. The people care for each other and their families and that’s all that should matter to them. “
Smith took this new found mindset back home, and it assisted him in creating something he could call his own. With LONGing for Hope, he was able to care for others right in his own community.
One of the main sources for raising funds is the longboarding races. LONGing for Hope hosted their first event last month at Lake Park, where approximately 40 people attended.
The races included prizes consisting of longboarding decks, wheels and trucks, and a variety of skill levels were welcomed. Competitors had the option to sign up for the slide or trick competition.
As the club grows throughout the year, Smith will continue to think about how the group can make the biggest impact.
“We are hoping for a freshman to take it on in the school and I want to take it into college.” said Smith. “I want to reach more than just Tampa.”
Angela Sexton / Staff Writer