CEDAR RAPIDS – Tony Hawk is a philanthropist, businessman, clothing mogul, actor, marketer, celebrity endorser, author and, last, but not least, a skateboarder.
Hawk was one of the world’s top skateboarders before his 18th birthday. He weathered the decline of sport’s popularity in the early 1990s and rebounded to win gold medals at the 1995 and 1997 X-Games, eventually landing the elusive “900” at the 1999 X-Games. Considered one of the skateboarding’s most technical tricks, Hawk was the first skateboarder to complete it in a competition.
“It was kind of the perfect ending to my competitive career so, yeah, I’m still very proud of it and I think it helped to propel skating into a mainstream consciousness,” Hawk, 44, says.
We’d agree. We asked area skateboarders if they knew who Tony Hawk was and got some “Are you serious?” looks and the same response — “He’s a skateboarder” from everyone. Each non-skateboarding teen we asked said the same thing.
It would seem, like Michael Jordan and David Beckham, Hawk’s name is still synonymous with his sport for both fans and non fans alike.
- WHAT: Inside Out with Tony Hawk
- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday. Book signing to follow at 8:30 p.m.
- WHERE: Theatre Cedar Rapids, 102 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids.
- COST: $30 for standard seats and $35 for premium seats for adults; $15 for youth at Theatrecr.org
- EXTRA: Tickets to attend the pre-show cocktail reception at 6 p.m. in the Linge Lounge with Tony Hawk are $90 per person.
Yet it’s the other decisions Hawk has made in his career — creating the Tony Hawk Foundation, which has helped build more than 400 skate parks in impoverished neighborhoods around the U.S. — that prompted the library to seek out Hawk for this year’s Inside Out program.
“He’s got such a broad range, but he also has an amazing story. He took something he loved and he made a career of it. So few of us grow up to do something we’re passionate about. He did,” says Amber Mussman, the library’s spokeswoman.
It’s that sense of passion Hawk will share Friday.
“It’s about really loving what you do and finding your own voice, even if it’s something that’s not necessary considered mainstream or maybe something that hasn’t been proven to be a viable outlet or occupation just yet,” Hawk says. “My message is to stay doing what you love because then you’re going to be happy.”
The event, Inside Out with Tony Hawk, is a fundraiser for the ongoing campaign to fund a permanent library branch on the city’s west side. It’s also a chance to highlight the library’s resources and programs to a new audience and Hawk is happy to help.
“Reading is important,” he says. “I read to my kids every night — still.”
Hawk has put his star power behind reading in other ways too, like “Tony Hawk’s 900 Revolution” — an action-adventure, sci-fi book series for young readers ages 10 and older. Copies of the book were donated by the library to eight community after school programs in Cedar Rapids. Two children from each program will get to serve as ushers for Friday’s event.
“There’s a pretty serious void in that age group in reading,” Hawk says. “Kids that age, they become somewhat disinterested in actual reading and they get way more into electronic entertainment — video games and television, Internet and anything — and I thought that would be a good way to, you know, possibly engage that age group again.”
— Meredith Hines-Dochterman