Hundreds of young skateboarders in the greater Nanaimo area can practise their ollies and kickflips on new boards now, thanks to ‘Sluggo.’
Robert Doucet Boyce, also known as Sluggo, is a Victoria-born professional skateboarder who made his way up and down the Island this summer, giving out hundreds upon hundreds of free boards to wide-eyed youngsters.
His latest stop was at Nanaimo’s May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park on Sunday, Sept. 11, when he personally gave out 200 complete skateboards – including decks, griptape, trucks, wheels and hardware – all “ready to roll.”
Before Nanaimo, Sluggo was spotted in Campbell River, Courtenay, Port Renfrew, Port Hardy, Sayward and Victoria.
“So far I’ve given out 800 complete skateboards on the Island this summer,” he said, adding that he and his business partners have also given away boards in Williams Lake, Mission, Abbotsford, and even beyond B.C. in Manitoba and Ontario. “Our goal is just to get to as many provinces as we can this summer … We’ll probably give out like 2,000 skateboards by the end.”
The pro skater’s generosity was prompted by a backlog of excess inventory caused by COVID-related distibution issues for his company Red Dragon Supply. He said the decision to do some good for the community and aspiring youngsters was a “no-brainer.”
“It was so fantastic to see the look in these kids’ eyes when you hand them a skateboard and you don’t expect them to give it back to you at the end of the day … It’s just been the most gratifying and overwhelming support from the communitites that we go to…” he said. “A skateboard is a pricey thing to give away, but what you’re giving a child is a life … You’re giving them access to a community … and it’s a healthy community.”
As he considers himself a “great great grandpa” in the skateboarding world, Boyce said it was interesting to note that the majority of recipients have been girls and young women – a significant uptick in representation from his younger years.
“Skateboarding is growing leaps and bounds for women right now and I think it’s just because skateboarding is in the Olympics. Everybody got to see that for the first time ever and skateboarding is looked at in a different light,” he said. “Which is really rad.”
Beyond his own giveaways, Sluggo also assisted with a similiar event on Gabriola Island in June.
Elizabeth Burdock, a social media influencer known as @whichbetty on TikTok, and her tattoo apprentice, George Heaven, held a special ‘Flash Sale’ event at Pretty Devils Tattooing where the proceeds went toward purchasing skateboarding gear and safety equipment.
“George is an avid skateboarder,” Burdock said. “He knows how much trouble [skateboarding] kept him out of at a young age. He just wants to see the same thing – for kids to have an outlet … A busy kid is a safe kid.”
With Sluggo’s help, they were able donate 17 complete skateboards, plus seven sets of safety gear, that are now available at the People for a Healthy Community on Gabriola Society for “anybody who needs them,” including youngsters from Nanaimo.
@whichbetty Hey come help a kid in need, get a tattoo or donate to help kids stay safe #gabriola #whichbetty #skateboarding #benefit #payitforward #vancouverisland #tattoos #tattooartists #nanaimo #nanaimobc #vanisle #kidsinneed #charity #donate #sk8 #kidswhoskate #sk8r ♬ original sound - Elizabeth Burdock