Thirteen-year-old Makayla Bunce got her first skateboard when she was four years old. For nine years she’s practiced to master tricks and spends more time on her board than she does on her phone or computer. Over the summer, she practiced up to three hours a day so she’s logged quite a few miles on her board. Now she’s using her skateboard to help raise money for a country 4,725 miles away that’s in the midst of a war.
Makayla, an Amherst Middle School eighth-grader, founded Skating for Ukraine to raise money for the people of Ukraine. With her classmate and co-founder Nicholas Yensan, the Skating for Ukraine campaign raised $329 in one week through the sale of helmet stickers and an event April 3 at the Alix Rice Skatepark in Amherst where friends and family sponsored her and Nick for $1 a board trick. They plan to continue fundraising for as long as people are willing to donate.
The church she and her family belong to, Kenmore Alliance Church, had visitors from the Ukraine recently and Makayla donated $5 to them and said it made her feel really good to do that.
Then she started thinking what she could do to help more. Her inspiration was skateboarding. She asked herself, “Can I do something I am good at and help Ukraine?”
“I did not really think much about it (the war) at first. I saw the news and poor kids crying and what they are living through and looked around me and I’ve got a roof over my head, food and water,” she said. “I realize that I have so much, even if I give just a little, I can make a difference. It makes me feel like a better person.”
Skateboarding has a strong interest in her family. Her dad skateboarded for 22 years, and he made an area in their basement where she can practice. Her classmate Nick got into skateboarding after he tried one of his friend’s boards and liked it. He bought his own and Mikayla taught him tricks.
She started designing helmet stickers with the words Skating for Ukraine and her dad said he wanted to buy one. She collaborated with her classmate Nick and they created two sticker designs and made t-shirts.
At the skatepark fundraiser in early April they created a poster that listed the difficulty level of 11 tricks that could be purchased for $1. From the easy hippie jump and Chinese nollie, the tricks increased in skill level to the ollie and drop in and the most difficult, the frontside 90. They were supported by friends and family and two Amherst Middle School teachers and their husbands attended.
All money raised will be donated through the Kenmore Alliance Church’s donation page where there is a selection for Ukraine Support. Her church connected to various agencies helping Ukraine and she said she saw a video of some families receiving food supplies from the donations. “I think it’s very important to help others when they are in a very hard time,” said Nick. “I feel like if I could do anything to help them, I am going to help them.”
They both said that they will continue to collect for the people of Ukraine even after the war has ended.
“I am in debt with my mom for all the supplies, but I’d rather be in debt to help others, they need it a lot more,” said Makayla.
What amazing kids! Thank you Makayla and Nick for setting such a kind example for all of us!!!