Though skateboarders may not necessarily the first community that comes to mind when you think of charitable giving, South Side Skate Park and its affable owner, Eric “Big O” Visentin, would like to correct that misconception. Over the last two decades, the only indoor skateboarding facility in Houston has raised over $885,000 for the Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation with its annual Texas Skate Jam.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend, the Texas Skate Jam will feature dozens of pro skaters from across the country demonstrating the tremendously tough tricks that have made them famous, including Chris Cole, Evan Smith, Sebo Walker, Ben Johnson, Tommy Fynn, Tate Malpass J-Scott Handsdown, Johnny Layton, Hollywood Martinez, Christian Dufrene, Garrett Miller and Raney Beres—and that's just to name a few.
South Side's annual Texas Skate Jam is equally notable for its fundraising component, in which 100 percent of the money raised by the event is donated to Make-A-Wish. This is made possible through gifts from other local shops, including Donkey Paw Screen Print & Design, which is providing T-shirts for the Skate Jam free of charge. Volunteers, meanwhile, are putting together goody bags for the hundreds of Houstonians expected to turn out this Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
Although no public skating is allowed during the Texas Skate Jam, you're invited to bring any decks or other memorabilia you'd like to get signed by the pros; many will be meeting fans and providing autographs during the event. Also verboten: food and drinks. You're going to be up-close-and-personal with the pro skaters on these ramps, so not tripping over the coping and spilling your Sprite is a plus.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, though you can also make a direct donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation through the Eventbrite page if you can't make it. But considering the wealth of talent Visentin is bringing to his skate park this weekend, you probably should.