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Kindness in action: Residents team up to buy new skateboard for local boy after his board was destroyed by vandalism

4/13/16

Elizabeth Medora
Staff

ANTHEM – Like many 12-year-old boys, Joey Alford loves skateboarding. So he saved up his own money and bought a new-to-him board, which he took to the Anthem skate park last week. While he was there, some older kids asked to try out his board. After he agreed to let them try it, they purposefully snapped the board in two, then refused to reimburse him or even apologize.

Sad and frustrating story, right? But it doesn’t end there. Angry and hurt for her son’s sake, Joey’s mom, KimberlyAnn, posted the story on a local Facebook group. There, she received an outpouring of support for Joey, and numerous people wanted to help make things right.

“I didn’t expect anything,” KimberlyAnn said. “I just wanted to vent a little bit.” She was at the park when the incident happened, but Joey asked her not to step in. Fed up with the bullying behavior of the kids involved in this incident and other incidents she’d been informed of, she posted to vent her feelings and make more parents aware that this behavior was going on.

Joey’s story resonated with multiple local residents, some of whom had had similar experiences as kids.

Martin Bowe, who helped organize getting a new skateboard for Joey, said when he saw KimberlyAnn’s post, he was “just sad.”

“When I was 8 years old, I had my bike taken, and it’s just not cool,” he said empathetically.

Local resident Adam Johnson also saw KimberlyAnn’s post and wanted to help.

“It hit close to home to me,” Johnson said. “When I was a teenager and younger, I was bullied a lot.”

Johnson is a skateboard enthusiast and was a pro skateboarder as a teen. He messaged KimberlyAnn and offered to give Joey two skateboards he had in his garage or help out in other ways. Multiple people were offering to help at that time, and they came together and decided to buy Joey a new board and support a new local business at the same time; they contacted Bored Apparel & Rides, at the Outlets at Anthem.

Jared Sutherland, owner of Bored Apparel & Rides, said a friend tagged him in the original Facebook post.

“I said, you guys come through the store, and I’ll hook it up. We’ll figure this out,” Sutherland said. “Yesterday, my store just filled up with people from around town. A lot of people pitched in to make this happen.”

Multiple local residents had donated funds for Joey, and Sutherland offered a discount, which allocated enough money to get Joey a new skateboard and accessories.

“He was beyond happy,” Sutherland described.  “You could just see it in his eyes and his smile. It was so cool.”

David Coleman also saw KimberlyAnn’s post and helped collect donations and fund the new skateboard. He noted that as a dad, he gets involved with the community and wanted to do “something material to help.”

“Whatever I can do to help these kids understand that life’s not that bad,” Coleman said. “They’re in that stage that they’re being molded.”

KimberlyAnn called everyone who stepped up to help “so gracious.”

“When we showed up at the skate shop, there were a good 15-20 people standing there,” she described. “We were just overwhelmed with the generosity.”

Another local resident gave a board to Joey’s younger brother Tyler, too, and both boys are incredibly appreciative of the generosity. The skate park is their favorite place to be now.

“Last night when we there, the boys were letting a younger kid ride on their skateboards, and they were riding around on his scooter,” KimberlyAnn said. She described that as being what the skate park is all about: being able to share and have fun together.

KimberlyAnn added that more parents have been around the skate park, and additional patrols are in the area to keep an eye on what’s going on throughout the park. Several of the people who helped Joey get his new skateboard also visited the skate park and talked to one of the kids involved in breaking it, which led the boy to apologize to Joey and his mother.

“We want to treat the underlying issue, not just the symptoms,” Bowe, who spoke to the boy, said. He emphasized that the goal of the conversation was to remind everyone that bullying and picking on younger kids is not the way to go. It wasn’t about retribution but about teaching a better way to treat others.

Johnson, who has four children of his own, concurred.

“Bullying is not the way to go,” he emphasized. Johnson and his kids volunteer in the community, and he works to teach his kids that there are always good people out there, helping others.

Several of the people who helped purchase the skateboard also headed over to the skate park and skated with Joey, too. For everyone who helped Joey, the reward was seeing what a difference they made for a kid who needed a reminder of the good things in the world.

“The kid just had the biggest smile. I’ll never forget it,” Johnson described.

“Joey is so humble and kind,” Coleman said. “He was so appreciative.” Coleman said he would continue to help in cases like this whenever he could: “Whatever it takes to help the kids in this community.”

“We’ll do the same thing whenever we have the opportunity,” Bowe said. “Just the look on his face – he was just overwhelmed!”

“It was just such a great experience to see the community all coming together,” KimberlyAnn said.

Sutherland said he was glad the story has a happy ending.

“The whole town came together,” he emphasized. “This is a small town – we take care of each other.”