This year’s Stoked Awards were held at the Red Bull space in New York on November 12th and offered up a good array of sports and televison personalities which were not only impeccably behaved but were for once, also completely focused on a cause that had no hint of the usual “Charity Event”. The Stoked Mentoring program is about as real as it gets, requiring consistent commitment and the rather unusual shelving of the celeb ego. A beast that, as we sadly know, is not easy to tame. The Red Bull space once again proved to be an excellent venue and the atmosphere was lighthearted but sincere.
The night honored Bob McKnight, CEO of Quiksilver, who was presented with the Stoked Achievement Award and is not only a deserving candidate but both humble and inspiring in person. When he told me how he started the company out of the back of a Volkswagon van it served as a useful reminder that in life becoming successful sometimes strangely, requires some hard graft rather than the odd stumble down a red carpet and/or forgetting to slip on some underwear. (Knees together please). Hosted by Sal Masekela, the co-founder of Stoked, the awards highlighted the incredible work that these people do, and for Masekela who delivered some very heartfelt words it proved to be a stark contrast to his usual role as Daily 10 host for E!, as he himself said when referencing his two jobs “this is real”. Proving the point, the award for Stoked Mentoring Pair went to Jonathan Drubner and his mentee Erick, a MacArthur Park local, an area of Los Angeles which subjected him to an incredibly vilolent and difficult life. A life he has since turned around with the continued support and friendship of Drubner, who it seems has had equal benefit from the pairing, introducing him as “one of my best friends”. The award for Stoked Volunteer went to Dan Bealey, a native New Yorker who through his management of the Team Stoked program helped to raise $30,000 in the last two years.
Founded in 2005 by Steve Larosilliere, Stoked has helped hundreds of ‘at risk’ youths to have a new chance at life and a focus outside of their usual difficult surroundings. By using board sports, (snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding), Stoked creates teams of mentors who “have achieved a high level of success in their personal and professional careers” and pairs them with teens who are considered at risk and in need of a positive role model. This is no easy or lighthearted commitment for either party but it certainly shows what real success and sheer guts, determination and a desire to change will do when combined together. How throughly refreshing.