Dave Kaule said he was one of those kids who could get hurt just by tying his shoes. So his parents did not allow him to play sports, such as football or hockey.
But through friends’ influence, Mr. Kaule began skateboarding, and recalled his parents were surprisingly "cool with it."
"Little did they know, I'd be in the hospital once a month for the rest of my life," Mr. Kaule said. “But really, I am so happy they allowed me to skateboard. It changed my life."
Mr. Kaule, 34, of Lawrenceville has since overcome his childhood clumsiness and has been skating for 21 years. He said he owes all the good things in life to having a "skateboarding mentality."
"I look at things in such a different way because of skateboarding," he said. "Architecture, everything. I observe my surroundings differently than the average person. I owe it all to skating."
His life's passion is what motivated Mr. Kaule to help host a Free Skate Day at noon Saturday at the Peach Plaza Skate and Action Park at Twin Lakes Park in Greensburg. He said the 65-acre park, dedicated for the late Joyce Peach by her husband, Hempfield School District teacher James Peach in 2012, is one of his favorites.
The event is sponsored by Troika skateboards of South Side, of which Mr. Kaule holds part ownership, and Commonwealth Press of also of South Side, owned by Kaule's friend and mentor, Dan Rugh.
Mr. Kaule said the event wouldn't have been possible without Sean Stipp of Hempfield, who started SkateDAD, a non-profit organization put together to teach parents about how skateboarding is a tool for kids to understand setting goals and problem solving.
"At first, I though [Mr. Stipp] was just trying to be 'the cool dad' doing this for his kid," Mr. Kaule said. "But after talking with him, I realized that this guy is really interested in the whole mentality of skateboarding.’’
Although Mr. Stipp doesn't skate himself, Mr. Kaule believes that "he gets it."
"I think SkateDAD is going to be huge," he predicted. "Mr. Stipp wants to take this into the inner-city areas, and there have been a ton of success stories about kids who grew up in the projects or 'the hood' who are now traveling the world and making a half million dollars skating. I, however, just skate because it makes me feel good."
A full-time graphic designer/printer and employee at South Side's The Printing Post, Mr. Kaule said he used to own a skateboarding company 10 years ago called Triad, but it closed.
"Dan [Rugh] and I have been wanting to work together for so long, but it just never worked out for one reason or another," Mr. Kaule said.
"One day, [Mr .Rugh] said, 'Hey, why don't we start up our own skateboarding company and just do our own thing?'. That's how Troika began, and it snow-balled.’’
At Troika, both Mr. Kaule and Mr. Rugh design skateboards and apparel.
At Saturday's event, there will be music, information and a variety of vendors. There will also be a safety course, set up to teach skaters and their parents ”the right way to fall,’’ Mr. Kaule said.
Mr. Kaule says his whole goal for this event is to show parents that skateboarding is not "a gang of misfit, outlaw, punk kids doing bad things."
"I want parents to see that skatboarding has become socially acceptable," he said. "It is so mainstream now. I mean, it's become as big a sport as football or hockey."
"It's a good life tool," he added. "You set small goals and accomplish them. I might spend all day physically and mentally beating myself up just to get one, stupid, little trick right, but when I finally do, there's so much gratification, it's unbelievable."
Lance Glaser, 29, who has enjoyed so-called “extreme sports,’’ such as biking, skateboarding and inline skating for more than 10 years, said the sports ”help younger kids be intuitive of architecture and construction. You pretty much learn how to build your own ramps and rails, and other things that go along with the sport."
Mr. Glaser, who said he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, skates and bikes in South Park nearer his home, and said that "extreme sports like skateboarding have definitely helped me see the world differently and has helped me with concentration. It has taught me that I can set and achieve goals, no matter what aspect they are in my life."
"It comes down to this," Mr. Kaule said. "As an example, I'm 34 and still out there skating and setting goals. Skating has changed my life in so many positive ways and I want to share that with as many parents and kids as I can."
Chasity Capasso, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.