Editors note: Aaron remains in first place in his category, but voting for this tier goes until June 1.
The remaining schedule is as follows:
Top 10 (begins June 1 and ends June 8) – Public voting will help reduce each group to the top ten (10) Competitors.
Top Five (begin June 8 and end June 15) – Public voting will help reduce each group to the top five (5) Competitors.
Group Finals (begin June 15 and end June 22) – Public voting will help reduce total Competitors to one (1) preliminary winner in each Group Finals group who will then advance to the Quarterfinals.
Wildcard Round (June 23 and ends June 25) – Competitors who took second (2nd) place in their respective Group Finals group will compete in a shortened round for a chance to advance to the Quarterfinals. Votes will be reset, and public voting will determine the top Competitor from each group who will then advance to the Quarterfinals.
Quarterfinals (begin June 26th and end July 6th) – The top Competitors from each Group Finals/Wildcard Round group will be divided into Quarterfinals groups. Votes will be reset, and public voting will determine the top Quarterfinalist from each group who will then advance to the Semifinals.
Semifinals (begin July 7 and end July 13) – The top Competitors from each Quarterfinals group will be divided into semifinal groups. Votes will be reset, and public voting will determine the top Semifinalist from each group who will then advance to the Finals.
Finals (begin July 14 and end July 20) – Votes will be reset, and public voting will determine which Finalist will be the winner of the 2023 Skatepark Hero Competition (the “Public Choice Grand Prize Winner”), on July 20. The Public Choice Grand Prize Winner will be announced on or around July 28.
Long-time islander Aaron D’Errico is in first place in the Skatepark Hero contest. The winner will take home $10,000 and skate with skating legend Tony Hawk himself.
“I have always loved skate culture. I would love to meet Tony, and talk to him, see how I can contribute,” D’Errico said.
The contest benefits Hawk’s Skatepark Project which builds skateparks in underserved communities across the nation. According to the website, the project has created safe and inclusive public skateparks since 2002.
“Skateboarding has more depth than just sport. It’s about inclusivity, creativity and community,” Hawk is quoted as saying on the SkatePark Project website.
The first round of SkatePark Hero voting ends Thursday, May 25 at 7 p.m. The top tiers continue through June and July, with the Public Choice Grand Prize Winner announcement occurring on or around July 28. To vote for D’Errico visit https://skateparkhero.org/2023/aaron-d-39-errico.
According to D’Errico, there are three ways to vote, each one has verification for fair voting. First, people may vote once a day for free by verifying their Facebook account. The second option allows voting twice a day for free by verifying identity via credit card. The card will not be charged. The third method is by donating to Tony Hawk’s Skatepark Project. Donating “Hero Votes” gives more votes, for example $10 equals 10 votes. All donationed “Hero Votes” going to Tony Hawk’s Skate Park Project were doubled Tuesday, May 23 by 9 p.m.
D’Errico was born with cerebral palsy, making it unlikely that he will physically skate with Hawk, should he win. D’Errico would gladly let someone else skate in his place, he said, and provide them with the chance of a lifetime.
The money and the skating isn’t why he decided to participate in the contest. Giving back, De’Errico said, is his motivation. His mother Cynthia D’Errico, instilled in him the importance of giving back and helping others.
“She was an angel on Earth, and I want to honor her legacy,” Aaron said. To give back, his goal is to apply the prize money and make shirts with his skater characters to help fund skatepark upkeep. “I want to pay it forward, so I’m doing this by choice, not by outside expectation.”
Gnar Lee, one of Aaron’s primary characters, was created as a tribute to Stan Lee and other heroes who have risked all odds to accomplish great feats.
One local hero is Paul Chadwick, a comic artist that Aaron considers his mentor. They met when he was still in high school, and Aaron showed him his work. Rather than being discouraging, Aaron said, Chadwick encouraged him to write a backstory for his characters to give them more depth.
“I have studied my heroes,” Aaron said, “I’ve studied what is possible,” Aaron said, adding “ I’m up to the impossible, and have fun in the process.”
One might argue he has already achieved remarkable achievements. After being accidentally hit by a car in the Town of Friday Harbor. Aaron put his energy into making sidewalks more pedestrian friendly. He met with the then Town Administrator Duncan Wilson and the two worked to implement curb cuts.
Aaron also was able to work with the San Juan Library to install a buzzer so those that cannot manage the door easily can get assistance from the librarian.
“I am solution-oriented,” he smiled.
He would like to assist with a solution to Cerebral Palsy as well. Aaron explained he would love to make a living off his comic strips and use some of the proceeds toward research. “I want to use pop culture to change lives. That is my drive,” he said.
Should Aaron not win this time around, he isn’t giving up either. He will simply try again next year.
“People have been so encouraging, I want to show them they are right,” Aaron said.