By JOE JAROSZ
March 26, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – In 2013, Brian Zygmontowicz got the wheels rolling on a unique career.
After quitting his job, he thought of a way to help people while also traveling and doing something he’s always loved, skateboarding.
In May 2013, he began his quest with the idea to circumnavigate the United States border on a skateboard. He began in Brunswick, Maine, made his way south and around through Key West, Fla., before heading back home for new gear to take through Texas. Now, he’s heading back home to East Lansing, Mich., – via Kansas City, Saint Louis and Ohio – to prepare for his next trek from San Diego to Vancouver this summer.
With no support crew and a 15-pound backpack crammed full of supplies, Zygmontowicz – or Ziggy to his friends – is skating for charity. When he started in 2013, the trip was a way to raise money for breast cancer awareness. Now, he’s raising money to help the Wounded Warrior Project, a veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of military actions following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the Ian Tillman Foundation, an organization that offers free helmets for skateboarders who can’t afford one.
“I just got sick of working and needed to focus on myself,” Zygmontowicz said. “I realized I could also help other people while doing that. There’s no sense in doing it to do it. If I’m gonna push a board around every day, I should do it for something.”
When he’s on his board, Zygmontowicz said he likes to shoot for 40 miles a day, but typically, he ends up doing more around 25 miles. Since he’s started, he estimated he’s probably skated around 3,500 miles, that’s including the roads he’s gotten lost on. How does one prepare for a journey like this? It’s best to ask someone other than Zygmontowicz.
“I don’t prepare,” Zygmontowicz said, adding he didn’t know about the Gladstone Manor Bed and Breakfast at 412 S. Gladstone until the day before he stayed there. “I’m a terrible planner but I think it’s helped and made the trip a lot more interesting. Day-by-day is the way to go if you’re going to do something like this.”
The tougher parts of the trip have been the days when he’s not able to find food or shelter. But there have been a lot of cool moments, as well. Zygmontowicz said he was in Key West for Fantasy Fest, a 10 day celebration that includes balls, a parade, costume competitions; New Orleans for Mardi Gras and Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest, an annual film and music festival. He added he’s also met a lot of cool people.
“The people I’ve met have been absolutely amazing,” Zygmontowicz said, adding he’s learned to be more patient and have a better understanding of other people. “I’ve learned a ton about how people in different regions live. It’s been a real eye-opener.”
In April, Zygmontowicz plans to release his own skateboard line, with the profits going toward funding the trip as well as charities. If you want to help Zygmontowicz with his trip or donate to the charities he’s working with, visit www.ziggysbreastquest.org.
“I’m definitely gonna make this my job,” Zygmontowicz said. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”