On August 15, amateur and professional skateboarders gathered at the Northampton skatepark at Veteran's Memorial Field for Roll for Rob, a fundraising event held by Theory Skate & Snow and the skateboarding company Actions REALized, to help Rob Pontes, a long-time sales representative and icon of East Coast skateboarding who is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Pontes was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, about two years ago. Unable to skate as a result of the disease, Pontes has started to undergo expensive and experimental stem cell treatment - funded, in part, by donations given through gofundme.com and through events like Roll for Rob.
The event drew hundreds of visitors to the Paradise City from New England, California, and other parts of the country - including professional skateboarders Justin Brock, Jack Ruiz, and Brandon Westgate. For some visiting guests, this was enough motivation to get out to Veteran's field and start skating.
"I was in Northampton last weekend and saw the flyer, saw Westgate's name, saw Brock's name... saw all these pros I've been wanting to see my whole life, and some of them I consider to be the best in the world," said Ryan James, a local skateboarder who travelled from Burlington, VT to attend Roll for Rob. "I've watched them in videos for years, you know? And to see them in person is rewarding."
Dziuban estimated the total donations from Saturday's event to be around $9,000.
"We haven't taken an official count yet, but we think something like 400 skaters registered to skate, plus another 100 who didn't buy a wristband. In total, we think about 500 people showed up," said Dan Dziuban, owner of Theory Skate Shop in Northampton. Dziuban and the rest of the crew at Theory have known Pontes for as long as he has supplied their store, about 17 years, and wanted to do what they could to help. Saturday's event was the second Roll for Rob gathering after a successful showing at the Feb. 28th event in Shrewsbury, MA.
Saturday's event was "was a huge success," according to Dziuban.
Theory plans to hold another Roll for Rob event in the near future, and plans to post more information on their website as details are finalized.