Skateboarding Across America for Alzheimer’s Research

Photo of a skateboarder going along the highway across the plains.

Standing in Belle Fourche, S.D., at the geographical center of the United States, the scope of my trip really hit me. My dad, Jack Smith, and my three other team members, Colleen Pellech, Marc Juvinall, and Melanie Castro, had been skateboarding across America for more than a week. This trip opened my eyes to the beauty this country has to offer and made all of us aware of the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease.

A Skateboard Relay.

We skated in a five-person-relay style that covered 150 miles as a team every day – about 30 miles per skater. The team skated more than 3,300 miles from the coastal Oregon city of Waldport to New York City in 23 days. This was the best experience I have ever had, and I have a totally changed outlook on life after this trip.

Alzheimer’s Awareness.

Dylan Smith and Jack Smith

Dylan Smith and Jack Smith

Our team chose to skateboard across America to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s after my Grandpa passed away from the disease last October. My dad and I saw the terrible effects of this disease firsthand and knew that our trip would be dedicated to making people aware and raising funds for research and care.

Our push brought our team across countless people affected by Alzheimer’s. People were brought to tears remembering parents, family, and friends who had passed away or were struggling with the disease. This was hard to see but served to push us harder and get the word out even more.

A Grueling Climb.

The push was incredibly hard at some points. The most difficult day was climbing Granite Pass, a 9,000-foot-elevation pass outside of Sheridan, Wyo. We were out one skater as Melanie was hurt the day before. The temperature hovered around 85-90 degrees the whole day. It took more than three hours to climb the 20-mile pass – yes, uphill the whole way. It was a grueling day, but at the top, it was the best feeling of the trip. We slept great that night and made great time the next day. We all look back at that day as the hardest but also as one of the best days.

Seeing Sights at 12 mph.

I had no idea how truly beautiful and diverse this country is until this trip. From the Oregon coastline and forests to the lava beds of Craters of the Moon in Idaho to the plains in the Midwest and finally to the urban jungle and skyscrapers of New York City – we got to see this beautiful country at 12 mph, and in my mind there is no better way to see the country.

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Dylan Smith is a psychology major at FRCC whose only vehicle is a skateboard. He falls more walking around than when on a skateboard.

4 Responses to “Skateboarding Across America for Alzheimer’s Research”

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October 02, 2013 at 2:18 pm, Cory Reinking said:

Dylan, this is a very empowering story (and well written!). I’m glad that the college decided to highlight your journey, because it is very impressive. Hopefully as a psychologist you will be able to contribute further to this terrible disease. If not, feel free to always fall back on history as a major…

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October 05, 2013 at 6:07 pm, Brandy VanStory said:

WOW! Amazing story! Great job!

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October 09, 2013 at 4:54 pm, Sharon Wagner said:

Dylan, I meet your group skateboarding in Wyoming. I was on the Tour de Wyoming bike ride…our routes overlapped for a few miles. I can remember thinking what endurance you all needed to make the trip! I followed the blog once I got home…what experiences you had! Thanks for skating!

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October 09, 2013 at 5:10 pm, Linda Kielian said:

Dylan you are to be commended – your entire team. I am glad that at 12 mph you are able to see the beauty of the struggle!

Hats off to you!