Skate Against ALS Skate-A-Thon features skateboard legends at PHR pump track March 7

Matthew Lorentz, Billy Ruff, Keith Stephenson, YoYo Schulz, Jim Gray, Dave McIntyre and Paul Schmitt with Eli Smith (sitting) at the pump track.

The Daymond D. Dodge Skate Against ALS Skate-a-Thon will be held on Saturday, March 7 at the Pacific Highlands Ranch Park pump track from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Organized by Carmel Valley resident and former professional skateboarder Billy Ruff, the hope is to raise $10,000 to help cover his friend Dodge’s medical expenses. Dodge, a well-known and respected skateboard industry archivist and skateboard collector, was diagnosed with ALS last year and is now in a skilled-nursing facility in Los Angeles.

“Hopefully we can raise money to help with his care and bring attention to him and his situation and how devastating this disease is,” Ruff said. “We’re bringing the skateboard community together to help one of their own.”

A crew of skateboarding legends are expected to come out and ride the pump track, including Dave Andrecht, Doug Marker, Brad Jackman, Brian Logan, Bruce Logan, Leonard Crowley, Mario Raposo, Kyle Jensen, Spidey De Montrond, Bill Billing, Layne Oaks, Steve Cathey, Ellen O’ Neal and many more.

Following the skate event, an after-party will be held at Green Flash Brewery from 5-9 p.m. with a raffle, a signed-skate deck silent auction and live music from The Shanghais and Alvino and the Dwells. Adrian Demain, who rode for Powell Peralta in the mid-1980s and is now a professional musician, will play his ukulele. During the event, they plan to show footage from the Skate-a-Thon as well as lost SoCal skate footage from the ‘70s, provided by Dodge.

During his professional skateboarding career, Ruff was considered one of the best vert skateboarders of the 1980s, riding for San Diego-based G&S Skateboards.

The pump track at PHR Community Park.

Ruff’s military family settled in San Diego when he was 12 and he picked up skateboarding after the Pepsi Skateboard Team came to visit his middle school, Marsten Middle in Clairemont. Among those doing the skateboarding demos that day was Dennis Martinez, the 1977 World Freestyle champ, who might make an appearance at the March 7 event.

“I thought, ‘that’s a cool group’ and I talked my dad into buying me a skateboard,” Ruff said. “I learned to skateboard on Mission Bay and I took to it quickly. Then I was skating every day.”

Ruff was hitting the skateboarding scene as it was winding down from the 1970s’ boom and by 1978, there were few skateparks in the area. He skated at the Oasis Skatepark which was located under the I-805 and I-8 interchange, taking a bus for three hours just to get there and skate for the 12 hours it was open, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. He also was a fixture at the famed Del Mar Skateboard Ranch, which was located next to the fairgrounds until 1987.

Eventually Ruff got sponsored and turned pro, skating professionally for 10 years. Pro skaters had a much shorter shelf life back then and Ruff put away his deck and moved into the business world. He hadn’t skateboarded for years until the pump track opened last year in Pacific Highlands Ranch.

“The pump track got me back skateboarding,” said Ruff, who started organizing Wednesday morning meet-ups at the track where a large group would come together to skate and socialize.

“One of the reasons why this pump track is so unique is you see everyone from age 2 to 82 out here skating,” Ruff said, noting he meets so many former skaters getting back into the sport with their children or grandchildren. “This is a place where they can do it as opposed to a skate park…it’s a comfortable place to skate.”

One of those guys returning to the sport was Matthew Lorentz, a brand ambassador for Green Flash. He started coming to the pump track on Wednesday mornings or on his lunch break, stoked to see skaters like Ruff that he had admired growing up or amazed to be sharing a track with Nyjah Huston who will skateboard at the Olympics as part of the USA Skateboarding National Team.

With the social aspect of the park, Lorentz made many friends and connections—when he learned about what Ruff was putting together with the Skate-A-Thon, he was more than willing to get involved, grabbing the Green Flash venue and helping getting the word out.

Green Flash tasting room manager Louis Mello stepped up to get the group of live bands lined up for the event.

“Without Green Flash jumping in and helping, I wouldn’t have been able to get it this far,” Ruff said.

For the Skate-A-Thon, Ruff has bought a bunch of clickers to count laps. Riders will use the western track that morning and anyone on wheels is invited to join and get in as many laps as they can for a worthy cause.

Skateboarder Jordan Farar plans to be at the track that morning at 7:30 a.m. to try and break his track record of 163 laps. Ruff’s record is 153 laps and it was during that epic run that he got the idea for the Skate-A-Thon. As he rolled through the loops, Ruff started thinking “I wish I could get paid for this” which quickly turned into “I could do this for Daymond.”

While many in the skateboard community have done things on their own to help Dodge, this will be the first live event bringing everyone together.

“I hope there will be an outpouring of support,” Ruff said. “I want it to be a community-style, neighborhood event.”

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Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park is located at 5977 Village Center Loop Road. Green Flash is located at 6550 Mira Mesa Boulevard.