The paperwork still needs to be verified, but the believes it made history Thursday by setting a Guinness World Record for holding the world’s largest skateboard lesson in a skate park.
Organizers say a total of 311 people participated in the 30-minute lesson, taught by Etnies owner Pierre-Andre Senizergues and skate park coordinator Nick Gates.
According to Gates, Guinness requires at least 250 people to set the record, which has never been attempted before.
"I was ecstatic that we got 311 people to participate," he said.
The event, hosted on the international Go Skateboarding Day, included an amateur best trick contest, Etnies product giveaways and free food.
But setting the world record was almost secondary for the hundreds of skateboarders who packed the skatepark wearing bright orange T-shirts emblazoned with “Team Thomas.”
The event was held in memory of Thomas Johnson, an 8-year-old who died in 2010 after a long battle with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer affecting the muscle tissues. Money raised at the event went to Team Thomas, a group of Thomas’ friends that raises money for cancer research, and the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.
On hand for Go Skateboarding Day at the skate park were Thomas’ parents, Dan and Christi, and his sister, Danielle. Dan Thomas expressed his gratitude to the community of Lake Forest, where they have lived since 1998, and for those raising funds for cancer research.
“Lake Forest has been such a wonderful community, for them to reach out—the local churches, the people, the schools, it’s just an amazing community,” he said. “It’s been the kids. They want to help us out. Seeing Pierre out here today, what an amazing gentleman...the kids and the event he is sponsoring to help out, it’s just an amazing community of people.”
Senizergues said he was taken aback by Johnson’s heartfelt comments and was teary-eyed as he spoke about what the event meant to him.
"I didn’t expect to get emotional like that, but when I heard the parents speaking about Thomas...I have young kids myself. I remember skateboarding as a kid and how much help I received and they touched me with their words,” said Senizergues, a World Championship skateboarder who has been skateboarding for more than 30 years.
“Growing up in a suburb of Paris, I learned early on because I lived in a very difficult situation that skateboarding would bring us together. It was always about trying something. It’s really about passion. It’s really about love," he said. "Seeing people wearing orange T-shirts here for Thomas Johnson is heartfelt. You really feel like something because they are caring for each other and supporting each other. So supporting Thomas and what he’s done, it reminds me what it’s all about. We all need to care about each other.”