15-year-old Ben Smith is gearing up for the longest ride of his life, and he’s doing it all for a friend. Ben is riding his longboard from the Arizona state line, through the entire state of Utah, into Idaho to raise awareness and money to help his friend, Gates Hunsaker.
Gates broke his neck a year ago in a snowboarding accident, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Gates, a 20-year-old, Bountiful native and graduate of Woods Cross High School, has spent the last 14 months in hospitals, doctors’ offices and rehabilitation centers making remarkable strides in his quest for renewed independence. The money Ben is raising will be donated to modify Gates’s vehicle so one day Gates will be able to drive himself. Additional donations will be used to help offset costs of physical therapy.
Ben will start his adventure on June 11th, 2012 at 6am south of Kanab. He expects to finish about two weeks later at the Idaho border. Prior to planning this longboard trek, contact was made with the Utah Highway Patrol and UDOT; both agencies have been cooperative and helpful. Ben will follow Old Highway 89, back roads, and bike paths. He will not be traveling on I-15. Those helping Ben are contacting city officials in each town, in advance of Ben’s arrival, to encourage community support. Ben will be passing through Santaquin City on the evening of June 15.
“Ben initiated this all on his own.” Rick Smith, Ben’s Dad, said. “Rather than encouraging others to skateboard with him, Ben hopes people will come out to cheer him on, to learn about Gates, and to donate to help him.” Donations are accepted on line at the website or in person.
People can track Ben’s progress and make donations at: www.LongboardUtahforGates.com
Interested parties can sign up to receive updates regarding Ben’s progress along the route. That way they can know when to step outside and cheer him on.
Ben should ride through Santaquin sometime in the evening on June 15. Follow him on LongboardUtahforGates.com