Tony Hawk helps dedicate the Nathan Lazarus Skatepark of Nederland, Colorado.
When Tony Hawk told 11-year-old Nathan Lazarus that he would name a skatepark after him, the youngster didn’t take him seriously. But less than two years after Lazarus helped Hawk win $175,000 for the Tony Hawk Foundation on the Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? game show, the two were reunited on-site at the May 30 grand opening of the Nathan Lazarus Skatepark in Nederland, Colorado.
The event culminated a five-year effort by Nederland nonprofit group Nedsk8, an all-volunteer coalition of residents who banded together to raise $500,000 to build the skatepark in the small mountain community. With a total contribution of $75,000, THF earned the right to name the skatepark for Lazarus, who lives in nearby Boulder.
But the Grand Opening ceremony was as much a celebration of Nedsk8’s steadfast dedication to seeing the skatepark completed as it was a formal dedication of the park to Lazarus. “I was proud to have kept my word, but more importantly to have given a community like Nederland a chance to fulfill their dream of a public skatepark,” said Hawk. “They did an incredible amount of work before we stepped in.”
Nedsk8’s efforts were led by its tireless Executive Director Randy Lee, who was also responsible for organizing a proper and festive grand-opening event. “The number-one goal was to have a good time, and by all accounts, the spectators enjoyed it immensely,” said Lee. “Tony and Nathan were critical to that success—both were great crowd pleasers—Nathan's youthful enthusiasm endeared him to all, and Tony is just a class act, all the way around. The result was a memorable day for all.”
Before formally cutting the ribbon and opening the park, Lazarus thanked Hawk, Nedsk8, and the citizens of Nederland for the honor: “It’s really made a lasting impression on me—how long the Nedsk8 volunteers worked. And Tony said he’d dedicate a skatepark to me, and then it actually happened. I think it’s really nice of him to actually follow thorough with that. It’s awesome.”
The $175,000 that Lazarus helped raise for THF has contributed to skatepark projects across the country—many far beyond the Nederland town limits, and all of which will result in skateparks serving youth he will likely never meet. At the ceremony, Hawk used Lazarus’ example to encourage the audience to choose a cause they are passionate about: “You can have the same impact, just by doing little things and getting involved.”
Afterwards, Hawk, fellow Birdhouse team riders Alan Young and Shaun Gregoire, and a host of top local skaters performed at the skatepark between sporadic thunderstorms. Designed to withstand the severe weather as well as the constant use by locals and visiting skaters, the 12,000-square-foot concrete skatepark will stand for decades as a symbol of one town’s dedication to a cause, and the idea that 11-year-olds can make a real difference in the lives of others if they dedicate themselves to something and really put their minds to it. “Don't give up, and do whatever possible to raise funds and spread awareness,” said Hawk. “It can take years, but it will be worth the effort.”