Friday, 12 December 2014

Longboard For Little Hearts - Santa Cruise 2014

The Santa Cruise 2014, what a great day from start to finish.
Photo by April Whitlow
Words By James Allen

The day began with clear skies and a meeting of Skateboarding Santa's, outside the Hammersmith Apollo. I arrived to see many Santa's already gathered, showing off their boards and outfits, and ready to get going. After many introductions and waiting for others to arrive, it was almost time to leave, so the Longboarding for Little Hearts crew gave a short speech reminding us why we were doing this event and then briefed us on the 20 mile route and the pace to be taken.

We were all pumped and ready to go, so after a few photos and cheers we set off on our journey towards Windsor.With everybody so excited, the first leg was an easy one, the skaters were pushing through the streets and paths of central London, weaving through the crowds, cars and any other obstacles we could find. Already we knew this was going to be a fun journey. As we made our way along, there had to be a few pauses to gather everyone together making sure noone got lost or left behind, not that it'd be hard to find a santa riding a skateboard.

After a while the group approached the main roads, which meant one long straight path alongside the traffic. Most passing cars would see us all and start honking their horns, which we would return with waves, smiles and cheers.

It was alot easier keeping everyone on the right path, but it did  however mean faster skaters would get too far ahead and the slower ones were getting left behind, so after a brief lunch/dance break at a McDonald's drive thru, the pace was reset and everybody was motivated
and ready to get back on track.

After following the main road route, across a variety of different paths clogged with wet leaves and muddy puddles, or journey led us back onto small town roads, waving at passers by, spreading cheer, and even stopping in Slough to have our picture taken with the Mayor.

We met with a few latecomers to help guide us through the last leg and into Windsor. As we skated into the town and up the hill to the castle, we were greeted by a friendly crowd and some of the charity organisers who were all cheering us on through the finish line.  Everybody was happy to have finished and rest their tired bodies, after more photos with the organisers and crowd of course.

So we headed through town to a pub/restaurant where we had 50+ seats reserved for the tired and hungry Santa's. But the FUNdraising didn't stop there, with raffle tickets sold out, then the prizes being drawn and the drinks flowing, we all sat back and enjoyed the rest of the evenings festivities.

Thanks to everyone involved in the organisation of this event for a much needed cause.
It wouldn't be possible without Dean Lake, I asked him about the charity, Mindless Longboards involvement and the great things he's doing, this is what he said:
    "Obviously with my daughter Olivia having the heart condition and needing open heart surgery at 7 months old to save hear life was extremely hard! I've managed to turn such a dark and worrying time of our life into something as positive as Longboarding for little hearts! It takes up a fair bit of my time and is a real challenge at times but is very much worth it when it all comes together like it did at the Santa Cruise. And the support is always over whelming as it expands the awareness of what myself and other families go through to another group of people who wouldn't usually think about children with serious heart defects. 
Having Mindless behind me means a hell of a lot! When I first started out creating LB4LH I sat planning all I wanted to achieve.
Sponsorship was a big thing to get people behind me to help this cause get recognised! 
I approached Mindless as I knew their offices in Amersham were close by and told them my intentions. They wished me luck but said they get a lot of requests etc.... They must've watched LB4LH grow over a few years until they come back to me last year and said "we want to be part of this" that feeling was incredible and makes the hard work I put in worth while that a big skate company like Mindless recognised that and it was a worth while cause!!"
" Helping other families through tough times is another thing I do assisting the Children's heart federation. If they get a parent call up asking for support I chat to them about my experiences!
I documented every aspect of Olivia's surgery in pictures etc and Have used them to prepare other parents for their child's big day.
I'm Thankful Olivia's went as smooth as it did as other children I know wasn't as lucky and a few I've supported really wasn't lucky and lost the battle!"

Thanks again and see you next year!

Special Thanks:

Dean Lake for Organising the great event!

April Whitlow - Shove It Mag - For the images.
 Check out Shove It Mag for event coverage and awesome images.

James Allen for the write up!