This Olympic year in the UK sees 48 year old Chris Ward from Southport, UK embark on his first long distance skate journey, THE LONG PUSH 2012—Longboarding for Autism Awareness. Chris will be pushing 100 miles on a round trip along the North West coastline between Southport and Fleetwood over 2 days to raise awareness of autism. Chris explained why…
“My girlfriend’s son was diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) last year, when he was aged 10. The diagnosis has had a huge impact on us and the way we live on a daily basis. It opened my eyes to what other families in similar situations must go through. We looked for support in understanding the lifelong condition of autism and that was when we found Families Connected. Founder and head of the charity Carol McKiernon has been hugely supportive of us, so I wanted to do something to help her charity grow. I’ve been skateboarding since around 1976, and had longboards the last few years, but only really fooled around cruising around the seafront area here in Southport. Last summer I found myself sat on the sea wall one Saturday afternoon, looking across towards Blackpool Tower and wondered if I could skate there one day. It was a germ of an idea at the time, but then towards the end of last year I decided to match it up with the charity idea and that’s how THE LONG PUSH 2012—longboarding for Autism Awareness was born.
Shortly after I’d made my mind up to do it I visited the Skate Further site and read about Blake and Daniel’s ‘Elevate Awareness – Longboarding for Autism’ journey in the USA. Then I knew I was on the right track. The boys are doing another journey this summer too, so I wish them luck with that.”
I’m going to do the full 100 mile ride over two days in either August or September, but I’m building my distances up now while I’m training and trying to raise more awareness each time I go out, by handing out flyers and dropping posters off. I’m easy to notice with my bright yellow ’LONG PUSH’ T-shirt or high visibility vest on. I’m hoping to raise around £5000 by the time I’m finished.
The response has been great so far, with Big Woody’s Skateboard Shop (Blackpool), DC Shoes, Orangatang Wheels and Sporting Sails all coming forward to sponsor me, and J&R Sports also flowing me Loaded bearings and a set of Paris trucks, but I’m still looking for more sponsors to boost the donations and help me raise autism awareness. People can follow my progress on the blog at www.thelongpush.blogspot.com where they can also sponsor me or make donations at www.justgiving.com/TheLongPush They can also follow The Long Push 2012 on Facebook, @TheLongPush on Twitter or in the Skatefurther Forum.
100 miles isn’t a long distance compared to what some others are doing, I know that, but it’s my first long distance skate, and I’ve really got the bug for distance skating now. I’ve pushed over 200 miles in total in training so far and if all goes well I intend to do a distance skate each year for a different autism charity. I’m confident I’ll make it, but the main thing is that I raise more awareness of autism and the impact it has on families. I hope people will support me in that.”