Ryan and Gretchen Sheckler Aim to Empower Kids With Foundation
Written By: Kelli Withaneye
Photographed By: Erik Isakson
Ryan Sheckler might be best known for his skills on the board, but he’s now managed to create a foundation that reaches far beyond the skate park. It’s been almost 10 years since The Sheckler Foundation began and its growth has been overwhelming for the whole Sheckler crew. The foundation produces fundraising events, passion projects and web-based initiatives to raise money and awareness for children’s causes and injured action-sports athletes on the road to recovery.
Ryan often skated at the YMCA in Encinitas at a young age where legend Tony Hawk shred. He then entered the California Amateur Skateboard League at six years old, igniting his contest winning streak and was finally picked up by his first three sponsors: Etnies, Volcom and Oakley by eight years old. Once he got sponsored he was considered the “new kid” at many of the skate parks that he visited while traveling and experienced a side of skateboarding that he hadn’t before.
“It’s a bully system—a brand new kid who just wants to skate and enjoy this freedom that I feel every day and they show up to a skate park with a new board and new helmet and they’re immediately shut down by other kids,” said Ryan.
He wanted the skate park to be a place that everyone would feel accepted and safe and he knew he had to help his fans, especially the ones that felt isolated. “The support and the love was just crazy so I wanted to be able to give that back because I was in a position to start doing that,” said Ryan. He started participating in events with charities like Children’s Cancer Research Fund and The Make-A-Wish Foundation, and eventually created The Sheckler Foundation with his mother and manager Gretchen Sheckler-Hachee, who is both the Director and CEO of the foundation.
The inspiration for The Sheckler Foundation started after a young girl named Casey, diagnosed with leukemia, requested to meet Sheckler through The Make-A-Wish Foundation. His hit TV show “Life of Ryan” had already aired on MTV and the world was getting to know him on a more personal level, especially his relationship with his brothers.
“She looked at my strength and was impressed and I looked at her strength and the scar, the beautiful scar that went down her neck and I couldn’t imagine the fight she had been through,” said Ryan. It was then that he knew he wanted to do more for others. “At that point in my life my worries were hitting a rim on a curb, it was selfish. She really opened my eyes, and that’s when it really started.”
With a mission to help causes that benefit children and injured athletes in the action sports industry, The Sheckler Foundation works to raise money for their “Be the Change” program, a web-based initiative that allows the foundation’s supporters to participate in where the charity donates money raised. About six to 12 times per year a $10,000 grant is given to a “Be The Change” recipient, which is voted on through the website. “It’s so incredible to see the can-do attitudes that come from these children that have been through so much,” said Gretchen. “We are so grateful to experience these moments with them.”
The money for the grants is raised through the foundation’s two major events each year: The Oakley Golf Tournament and Skate For A Cause. This month is the Oakley Golf Tournament at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point. The gala will be held on Saturday, Sept. 9 honoring Sheckler’s longtime agent and The Sheckler Foundation board member, Steve Astephen. Sunday, Sept.10 will be the golf tournament at the Monarch Golf Links. This event always draws a large crowd of celebrities and action-sport athletes who will enjoy a vintage nautical themed golf tournament with a whole day filled with activities on Monarch’s unique golf course with ocean views at every hole. Golfers will also be able to enjoy cocktail hour during sunset, a 200-foot helicopter ball drop, an awards ceremony and more.
Down Time: When Sheckler isn’t skateboarding at his own skate paradise in the Sheckler Foundation warehouse, you can find him surfing in his hometown of San Clemente, working with his personal trainer or getting ready for his next event.
New Ink: Sheckler’s newest tattoo says “love” on the side of his hand, because his current focus is to show love and compassion to everyone.
One on One: Sheckler loves hanging out with the kids who benefit from his foundation.
The Sheckler Foundation
1011 Calle Amanecer
San Clemente, CA 92673
Get On Board With The Sheckler Foundation