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Good News

‘They taught him so much more than just skating’



skate park kindness
Photo by Christie Kelley Martin.

“How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.”

-Morgan Freeman

Christie Kelley Martin says that her son Hayes took up an interest in skateboarding over the summer, even saved up his own money to purchase a skateboard at the local Walmart.  The 10-year-old loves all sports and skateboarding is the latest in his athletic pursuits, despite the fact that no one around him skates.  So, last Sunday, Christie and Hayes made their way to Vicksburg Skatepark to get some practice in.

Hayes skatepark kindess

Hayes practicing his new skill at Vicksburg Skatepark (photo by Christie Kelley Martin).

“We were really only going to make a quick trip by the skate park,” Christie said. “But we ended up staying for hours.”

Soon after arriving, they were greeted by a friendly man who was also skating. The man was an experienced skater, and Hayes took the opportunity to ask him some questions.  That man was Tyler Hollowell, and he was more than happy to answer Hayes’ questions and show the enthusiastic beginner some techniques.

Hollowell is a life-long skater, and although he is humble about it, he was a key player in lobbying and raising funding for the Vicksburg Skatepark.  It is thanks to him and others like him that the park even exists.  For Hollowell, helping the young skater was just the natural thing to do.

“We all start at the beginning,” Hollowell said. “I couldn’t tell you how many people helped me when I was starting out.  That is the thing about skating: it is for everybody. Big, small, black, white, old, young – it doesn’t matter, anyone can ride a skateboard.”

Hayes and Hollowell were soon joined by Chris Mackey, another veteran skater and Hollowell’s good friend, who fell right into working with Hayes as well.

“They spent so much time with Hayes to teach, demonstrate, assist, encourage, and praise my baby boy in his love for skating,” Christie said. “They were so hands-on.  I was a little bit of an over-protective mama bear because we had forgotten his helmet at home, but they were right there by his side to make sure nothing was going to happen, so I was like, ‘Okay lets do this, you can do it Hayes!'”

Tyler Hollowell stays close by and Chris Mackey looks on as Hayes practices his technique (photo by Christie Kelley Martin).

Hayes was soaking it all up and having a blast. But there was a problem.

“His board sucked,” Mackey laughed. “It wouldn’t even roll.”

Deciding that wouldn’t do for their new friend, Mackey and Hollowell dug around in their vehicles and discovered that between the two of them, they had everything to set Hayes up with a proper skateboard.  So that is what they did.

hayes skatepark kindness

Chris Mackey, Hayes Martin and Tyler Hollowell sat at a picnic table and built a new board (photo by Christie Kelley Martin).

“Hayes is an awesome kid.  He was so respectful the entire time.  It feels good to help someone, but really, he made our day, too,” Hollowell said. “Just seeing his eyes light up like a Christmas tree, it was just a great time,” Mackey added. “He was so into it and that kind of thing is contagious.”

Christie says that her son was so pumped about the experience and his new board that they had to go back to the skate park that evening so he could practice all the stuff he’d learned on his new board.

On their second trip, Christie ran into a former co-worker who was enjoying the park with her young son.  The little one took a liking to Hayes’ old board, and while Hayes was practicing, he was pushing the old board around, up ramps, and playing in his own way.

hayes skatepark kindness

Photo by Ingrid Jackson

“He progressed so much in one day,” Mackey said of Hayes.  “I saw his mom’s post on Facebook where he was dropping in on the big ramp that same day!  That was a proud moment.”

skate park kindness

With his confidence fully boosted, Hayes took on some of the more advanced features at the skate park that same day (photo by Christie Kelley Martin).

“It took me three months, probably, to work up the courage to do that when I was starting out,” Holloway said. “Give Hayes a couple years and I bet he’ll be out-skating us!”

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

-Amelia Earhart

When it was finally time to go home, the tot did not want to part with the skateboard he’d been having so much fun playing with.

“Let’s let him have it, Mama,” Hayes said. So, that’s what they did.

hayes skatepark kindness

Photo by Ingrid Jackson

“We had kind of talked about that with Chris and Tyler earlier,” Christie said.  “We were thanking them for the new board and everything and one of them said, ‘It’s no problem, just pay it forward’ so that was another proud mama moment for me.  They taught him a lot more than just skating.”

Hollowell and Mackey say they were just sharing what they love with the next generation.  If they had their way, everyone in Vicksburg would be down at the park learning to skate with Hayes’ energy. But the kindness that they showed to Hayes left an impression on the young man, and he was quick to return the gesture when the opportunity presented itself.

“You just don’t see a lot of people going out of their way like that,” Christie said.  “I’m just so grateful.  It is easy to get a little discouraged these days, you know, but then something like this happens to remind you that there are good people in the world.  I don’t know if we were meant to be there and to meet them, but I kind of feel like we were.”

“We just want to spread positivity, really,” Mackey said. “That is what skating is about and that is what life is about.  Sure, that stuff we gave Hayes costs money, but that doesn’t matter.  I’m grateful to be in a position that I can afford to give.  And it put a smile on all our faces – can’t put a price on that.”

“We just love skating,” said Hollowell. “When the park first opened, we did clinics every week for anybody that wanted to learn.  A bunch of guys donated old boards and stuff, so we had everything there.  But you know, we all have jobs and kids and slowly it just kind of petered out.  The skating competition a few weeks back had a lot of support from the community, though, so hopefully we can do more fun stuff in the future.”

Hollowell and Mackey were part of the group that put on the Muddy River Mosh Madness & Hot Summer Sk8 Daze event last month.  “We didn’t do it by ourselves, a lot of local guys came together to make that happen.  Jamie Strong, especially, we wouldn’t have had an event without him,” Hollowell said.

outdoor skate and rock show

Left to right: Jeremy Luckett, Jamie Strong, Palmer Shires, Chris Mackey, Tyler Hallowell, Josh Harrison, Brandon Bishop (photo by Don Hill).

The grassroots event was a success, with the Squeeze the Lime food truck selling completely out of tacos.  They hope to hold similar events each year, and the Vicksburg Daily News will be sure to let you know about it when they do.

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