While spending time at the Durango skate park, we struck up a conversation with a local named Travis. Travis hung around the skate park watching his two boys Zach and Caleb glide effortlessly around the park. As we talked more, we found out that Travis had served as a combat medic after entering the U.S. Army at the age of 30. He now works in town as a nurse and accompanies his boys to the skate park whenever he can.
Before leaving, we asked Travis if he had any suggestions on who he thought should ride home on the last brand new skateboard we had picked up from INFERNO BOARD SHOP downtown. Without skipping a beat, he pointed behind us and said, “That guy right there.” As we spun around, we saw he was pointing to a young man who had greeted us with a friendly smile on our way in. Travis explained, “His name is Juan, and he’s just a good guy for all of these kids. He looks out for them.” We agreed we would have to talk a little more with Juan. We chatted awhile longer with Travis and then prepared to talk with Juan. We looked around the park, but he was gone.
When we entered the skate park earlier, Juan was one of the first to greet us with a smile and a handshake. In a brief conversation, he mentioned he was passing some time skating before he went to work at the Zia Taqueria in town. He talked up the place and even invited us to come in and check it out. After realizing he’d disappeared from the skate park, someone suggested that he’d likely gone off to work for the evening. We knew we couldn’t go back on what we’d already decided and agreed we’d head to Zia’s Taqueria for dinner.
Zia’s turned out to be a build your own taco, burrito, or any number of delicious-looking Mexican dishes. Juan was right there behind the counter and greeted us with the same friendly face we met at the skate park. Juan was helpful, friendly, kind, and the kind of guy you know nearly anyone could get along with. He mixed up some amazing food and we retired to our table as we watched Juan’s friendly personality continue to serve his customers.
After eating, Nate approached the counter asking if Juan would be comfortable answering a few questions on camera about the skate park. “Absolutely! I just have to ask my boss first.” he replied. Minutes later, he came out to our table and took a seat. We explained that we were traveling the country meeting good people like him and asked him a few questions to which he happily responded. Juan told us he had just turned 20 years old. When asked what he thought his role was as one of the older guys around the park he responded, “I always saw kids riding around, and I always wanted to be that kid, you know, getting down on a skateboard.” He explained that his role with them is to motivate them to try as hard as they can every day.
As Juan finished Nate told him, “We heard from multiple people around the park that you’re a role model to the younger guys and thought you should be recognized for that.” With that, Nate handed him a new enjoi skateboard we had set up earlier in the day. New deck, new trucks, new wheels! Juan couldn’t believe it. “No way,” he said. “These are the next trucks I was going to buy, too! This is such a fresh board! This is going to be my baby now.” We know Juan will continue teaching younger skaters and for that we extend huge thanks from Project Wildness. Keep doing good, Juan!
Be a role model to those around you in all you do. #ProjectWildness
To Dwight… You have been a role model to my brothers and I since we were born. What you do for others is without the thought of recognition or repayment; you do good in the name of good and always have. You are one of the most selfless people I know, and I admire you deeply for that. You’ve taught me to appreciate nature, art, people, music, stories, and so much more. Thanks for being such an important part of my life and my family’s life. Keep being you.
To Sarah and Devlyn… The last couple of years we’ve been able to grow closer through love, life, and loss. I have appreciated everything the two of you bring to every family moment. Your energy, style, and approach are to be admired by all. Devlyn, you’re the sweetest young lady a person could meet. Keep being such a good role model for your mom… Kidding! But really, thanks for everything you are to me, to our family, and to those around you. And thanks for being a part of this dream.
To Bekah E… What you gave to this project went to a young man named Juan with a deep passion for skateboarding. But what you gave was not just a skateboard. You gave some deserved recognition to a man who puts himself aside regularly to share his time and talents with kids who look up to him. Your donation keeps him skating and helping the next group of young people stay on the right track!