SkaterAid Celebrates Youth, Helping Others

Skating, music and art expected to draw hundreds to upcoming benefit for pediatric cancer.

Calling all skaters! Brush up on your 180 and bring your board to a festival that's planned with you in mind. If skating's not your thing, come for the music where young, local bands will rule.

All ages will enjoy the dazzling display of more than 90 (formerly bruised and worn) skateboard decks transformed into beautiful works of art, which are currently on display at The Brick Store Pub and available for online bidding.

On Sept. 25, the parking lot of East Decatur Station will morph into the home of SkaterAid, an event especially for kids and teens that is expected to draw more than 1,000 participants.  

Skating contests and demonstrations sponsored by Stratosphere go on throughout the day and local high school bands will rock the scene.  On the day of the event all the art boards will be moved to East Decatur Station and auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The annual festival started in 2005 in honor of Ian Wochatz, an avid skateboarder who was diagnosed with brain cancer. At the time, Ian, son of Ruth and Volkmar was still living and was to attend SkaterAid, which initially was to be a one-time fundraiser to help the family with medical bills and other expenses, Volkmar explained.

On July 4, three months before it took place, Ian died at the age of 15.

The inaugural SkaterAid provided a needed outlet for people to honor Ian in a way he would have loved, said Volkmar.  “It was so well received; the kids almost demanded a second year. It fills a void because it’s for teens and by teens — kids love it.”

This year four bands chosen by representatives from “Paste Magazine” will play. In years past, all band members were from area high schools and under age 18. This year an exception was made with Lucy’s Dreams, who recently released their first CD, “Vivian” through Pretty Ambitious records. The former Decatur High School students, now in their 20s, got their start at SkaterAid.

Others include Already Taken from the Dunwoody area, which has played at festivals such as Athfest. Their lead singer, India Bennett, is the daughter of Cindy Wilson, vocalist for the B-52s.

Swamp, whose sound is described by “Paste” as “beautiful and flowing,” and Social Cellar, called “unpredictable, with great energy,” round out the program. 

“We’re all excited to play somewhere that not only lets people hear our music, but also benefits a good cause,” said Social Cellar’s Spencer King.

All year long, used skateboards are collected by participating shops and distributed to artists who use painting, sculpture, drawing and photography to create artwork.   

“It’s a fantastic art show and raises the biggest chunk of money,” Wochatz said. All proceeds generated by the event are donated to Brain Tumor Foundation for Children which aids families who are battling pediatric brain cancer. To date, SkaterAid has provided more than $90,000 to families.

“This festival is very unique and is a grass-roots effort by a group of local Decatur folk, along with great sponsorship from many Decatur businesses,” said Cathy Keeler, volunteer coordinator.     

“We need many volunteers to help us to put on SkaterAid because it’s a huge endeavor and not a City of Decatur festival,” Keeler said. Volunteers for the raffle, youth skate area, art auction, competitive skate area, live bands and admissions are welcome and needed for
two main shifts.

 “Adults pitch in to help, but once the festival begins, we turn it over to the kids,” said Volkmar.  “It’s a special festival just for them, and
they know it.”

The event will run from 2-7pm on Sunday, Sept. 25, at East Decatur Station, a business complex just west of the Avondale MARTA station at 109 New St., Decatur, Georgia.

Bethany Taylor September 06, 2011 at 07:44 PM
This looks great. I love it!


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