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Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Skaters send aid to N.J. Sandy victims


Professional skateboarders Wieger Van Wageningen and Guy Mariano show their support for Sandy victims in New Jersey.

Skateboarders and the skateboard industry are pulling together to help New Jersey victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Just more than one week ago, Sandy, a Category 1 "superstorm," took aim at the Mid-Atlantic coast, with New Jersey dead center in its path of destruction. Flash floods, gas leaks and power outages have left residents without heat. Entire communities have been decimated throughout the tri-state area.

Chris Nieratko -- an ESPN contributor, a New Jersey resident and owner of NJ Skateshop -- sent an email to the skateboard community asking for help for his East Coast neighbors who are in dire need. "I am writing to you to ask for your help in clothing the displaced, homeless, under-dressed skaters in our community and their families," Nieratko wrote. "Anything you can spare to help people stay warm will be appreciated."

The good folks and skaters at Zero Skateboards and Fallen Footwear and skate filmmaker Greg Hunt's sister in Maryland sent warm clothes to New Jersey for the impending cold spell.

The response was immediate. Professional skateboarder Guy Mariano emptied his own closets of winter gear before heading to Girl Skateboards warehouse to pack boxes destined for New Jersey. Prefaced with the disclaimer, "I'm no Clooney," Mariano said, "but when disaster strikes, it's important for us to come together and support in any way we can, whether it be our time, money or assistance. It's great to see people come together to do a little something to make a big difference."

In San Francisco, Anti-Hero pro skater Tony Trujillo packed up four boxes and made sure they got to FedEx for an overnight arrival, saying, "It's a disaster. Hopefully people would do the same for us on this side. It's the least I could do."

After reading Nieratko's plea to the community online, skate filmmaker Greg Hunt's sister drove bags of donated winter clothes from Maryland up to the skate shop in New Jersey, proving that skateboarding truly is a family.

With most of the skateboarding industry amassed on the West Coast, distraught skaters have helplessly watched the devastation on television. Professional skateboarder and co-owner of Girl Skateboards Mike Carroll said, "I've been working nonstop on getting this video ['Pretty Sweet'] done for the premiere, and then you see what people are going through, and I'm like, 'I'm worried about this?!' It puts everything in perspective."

Pro skaters Eric Koston, Joey Brezinski and Chris Cole, and nearly every brand in skateboarding have contributed and shipped boxes out to Nieratko's New Jersey skate shop. They're hoping to beat the nor'easter that's due to hit Wednesday, when temperatures are expected to plummet. Weary residents are bracing for another battery of wind, rain, snow, floods and potential power outages. To help, visit facebook.com/NJSkateshop.