Skateboard legend Tony Hawk descended on the nation's capitol earlier this week to meet with lawmakers and throw a spotlight on a major casualty of these tough economic times: funding for school sports programs.
During his lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., Hawk, 43, also met with Shaw Middle School kids, who are on the verge of losing their sports funding because of national budget cuts. Recent studies have revealed that since 2009, youth sports budgets across the country have been slashed by more than $3 billion.
"I spoke to the school about the importance of staying active and what the recent budget cuts to youth sports programs mean to kids like them," Hawk told ESPN via email. "[I told administrators that by] providing such programs for kids will save much more money in the end. The kids that live in low-income areas need guidance and someone to believe in them at such a formative age, which could prevent later problems such as teen pregnancy and prison. I also pleaded for more support for public skateparks."
On Capitol Hill, Hawk met separately with U.S. Representatives James Langevin (D-RI), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), and Ron Kind (D-WI).
"[I told them that] my experience [in sports] comes from growing up with no government support for my chosen activity and having to deal with a serious lack of facilities," Hawk said. "My message to them is that they need to support ALL kids, especially the ones that are in at-risk areas and choose to do something different (like skating)."
"Langevin was the only one to ask, "What can I do for you?" Hawk said. "And [he] was the most supportive of Up2Us."
In Washington, Hawk attended the Up2Us National Summit, an event hosted by the nonprofit coalition of youth sports organizations to address the budget cuts, and co-sponsored by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
Hawk is an academy member of Laureus, which "promotes the use of sport as a tool for social change," according to its website.
"I got a taste of what it's like to lobby for a cause," Hawk concluded. "And the ones that persevere should be commended. It is exhausting."
In other news from the Hawk's nest, the 8th Annual Standup for Skateparks benefit blower -- and invite-only, celebrity event held on billionaire business magnate Ron Burkle's Beverley Hills estate -- raised $755,000 for the Tony Hawk Foundation, which funds public skatepark construction in low-income communities.
Another Standup event will be held on November 5 in Las Vegas at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa.