Lizza Lane chats to Chris Ward about his epic longboarding journey – The Long Push 2012.
For the last 8 months, Chris Ward has been planning and training for a 100 mile round trip down the Fylde coast, from Southport and down Blackpool Prom to Fleetwood, with little else than a longboard. This trip is a fundraising event in aid of the charity Families Connected, a charity which offers support to families that deal with autism. Families Connected is close to Chris’s heart. His partner’s son was diagnosed with autism, a social disorder, at the late age of 11. After receiving much help from the charity in understanding and dealing with autism, Chris felt it was time to give something back, but felt as though it had to be more spectacular than just a sponsored bike ride. Skateboarding has been a hobby of his for years, but a longboard was chosen as they are particularly used for rough terrain, and being wider and longer, they are hence much sturdier.
Chris has had much support from the Blackpool skate scene with this trip since he began his training from Christmas last year, especially by Big Woody’s skate shop on Talbot Road. They are his local sponsor and they’ve generously supplied him with boards, helped find his perfect pair of skate shoes, designed the flyers and given much advice for his arduous journey. And arduous maybe putting it lightly! In the name of charity, Chris has put up with many a skinned knee, the cold and wet Blackpool weather, and trips to the chiropodist for those poor feet!
Chris keeps a regular blog of his training and development in preparation for the event (www.thelongpush.blogspot.co.uk). As well as route maps and a catalogue of longboard parts, the blog also illustrates the sheer number of people who are eager to come together and help the cause. From the very start of his training, he has totalled around 370 miles, and has fundraised over £1900; an incredible achievement.
Next year, Chris aims to raise even more, with perhaps an even longer journey (he’s concerned 100 miles is just not long enough!). To raise further awareness, he would also like to push for the Blackpool Tower to ‘light up blue’ for World Autism Awareness Day, and become part of the global event that happens every 2 April.
But for now, I encourage anyone (philanthropists and skate/longboarders alike!), to go see him on 8 and 9 September 2012. Wearing his distinctive yellow and black ‘The Long Push’ shirt, Chris shall be on his longboard, handing out flyers, wristbands and is happy to spend time with anyone along the way who wants to know about autism, his trip, or his longboard!
Let’s get behind him and hope the weather is on his side. Good luck, Chris!
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