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Skateboarders' fundraising journey rolls into Old Town

COURTESY OF PUSH FOR BURUNDI - Alberta, Canada, skateboarders Jordon Smith and Caleb Sinn ended their several-week 1,400-mile fundraising venture Monday, July 20, in Portland's Old Town. The two skateboarded from Canada to raise money for a program to help families in the Central African nation of Burundi.Sometime around 2:30 p.m. Monday, July 20, two young men from Edmonton, Alberta, rolled their longboards into Old Town, stopped at the White Stag Block on Northwest Couch Street and admired the Portland, Oregon sign.

After that, they took a well-deserved rest.

Jordan Smith, 19, and Caleb Sinn, 20, have had a long trip on their skateboards, propelling longboards nearly 1,400 miles over the Rockies from Edmonton to raise money for an international group helping the people of strife-torn Burundi.

By the time Smith and Sinn return to their Canadian home, they probably will have raised between $8,500 and $10,000 through the long-distance ride and sales of longboards. The money will go to the international group, World Vision, which operates SafeChicks, a program helping Burundi families establish chicken farms to earn a living.

“With all the political unrest there, we really wanted to focus on getting Burndi society back on its feet, and this seemed like the best way to do that,” Smith said early Monday afternoon, taking a break while pushing his longboard down Northwest Cornell Road near 185th Avenue, heading into Portland.

The team spent the night near Gales Creek in Washington County and then started the final stretch of their weeks-long trip. After some local fun in Portland, the team will drive home in the van that followed skateboarders on the trip.

Google-mapped route to Rose City

Smith and Sinn are the driving force behind Push For Burundi, a group they started to raise money for the Central African nation, one of the poorest in the world. Sinn and friends Andrew Ipe and Rebekah Gulley spent time in Burundi as part of a Love Works international charitable organization mission, meeting people and working with the coffee industry and doing construction work in the town of Busiga. Sinn spent six months in the nation, seeing problems and injustices families face. The mission inspired Sinn and Smith to raise money for the nation.

This is the third year the two have skateboarded their way across country to raise money. In summer 2013, they pushed their longboards across Alberta, Canada, to raise funds for projects in Burundi. Smith joined the campaign early that year after meeting Sinn in an Alberta skateshop, where Sinn was looking for sponsorship for a trip.

With a team that includes Smith, Sinn and driver/photographer Andrew Ipe made longboard trips across Alberta (2013) and British Columbia (2014). Rolling into Portland this summer was decided after one of the team’s members (a former Portlander) recommended it as a new destination.

“We knew we wanted to do a push this year, and we wanted it to be bigger than the first and second year, so one of the team members was from Portland and she said, ‘Why not Portland,’ ” Smith said. “So we Google-mapped it and decided to push into Portland.”

The team left more than a month ago and has gone through eight pairs of shoes rolling toward the Rose City.

Ending up at the Portland, Oregon sign seemed like a good idea to the team, Smith said. “It’s sort of anti-climactic because we always end up trying to figure out where to go at the end. We checked it out and decided to go to the Portland sign.”

Kevin L. Harden is digital media editor for Pamplin Media Group. 503-546-5167. email: kharden@portlandtribune.com
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