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Tony Hawk Teams with the Foundation in South Africa

September 05, 2016

The definition of ripple effect is continuing and spreading results of an event or action.  The goal of philanthropy is to see the ripple effect of work that results from someone’s passion to help others.  Whether that passion started with them or not -- it continues on perpetuating a positive and lasting benefit to others. 

Continuation. Change.

The goal for the Starkey Hearing Foundation, and those that partner with us, is to continue giving the gift of hearing to those in need across the globe. This gift means opportunity now exists for people with hearing loss to pursue an education, career, or life dreams that they once thought impossible.  Similarly, a person who contributed to the gift and witnessed how it helps also saw a change in themselves as a result of their gift.

The Foundation strives for positive continuation of its mission and aims to spread hope and humanity to each person it helps.

The ripple effect was certainly in place as the mission team gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa with Tony Hawk and the Tony Hawk Foundation, other professional skaters, Skateistan officials, and Medifix Hearing Systems to give the gift of hearing to 200 students from the Ekurhuleni School for the Deaf. The mission coincided with the grand opening of the South African Skateistan Skate school that supports youths with various programs for skating, education, and youth leadership, all of which encourage growth and positive change for kids. 

“I love it. I’m excited to be back here with Starkey,” Tony Hawk said. “I never thought I would be able to bring two of my interests together like this. It’s honestly it’s one of the most rewarding things I can think of.”

Both events filled the students with excitement as they were receiving their hearing devices and meeting Tony Hawk, expert skateboarders, and South African native and rising skateboarder, Thalente Biyela. 

Biyela was thrilled to have the opportunity to support and care for students who have hearing loss.  “I never thought I would have done something like this -- through skateboarding. It was such a life-changing moment for these kids,” said Biyela.

These joint endeavors encapsulate what the Foundation is all about, bringing people together, connecting them to mainstream life, and opening a world of opportunity instantly and with significant impact.

Thalente Biyela has a compelling life story that represents a ripple effect. Today, he lives in Los Angeles and pursues skating, but his journey to skating star was not easy. He was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. At 13, he was orphaned, and ended up living on the streets and addicted to drugs. Although through all the upheaval during his childhood, Biyela was still able to hone his skating skills. 

He received many helping hands who supported his efforts to overcome his addiction and succeed in life. With help and hard work, he overcame many obstacles. He connected with Tony Hawk when Tony visited South Africa for a skate camp. Hawk noticed Biyela’s natural talent for skating. They reconnected after Biyela moved to Los Angeles to pursue skating.

Biyela finds himself in the people he is helping now at the mission and skate park. He put the ripple effect into play with changing his life and continuing his positive work despite trials and struggles.

After time, Biyela said, “I have a whole different perspective on life from that mission.”  He continued, “It gave me a whole different perspective on everything, like the privilege of life, of hearing, of  speaking.”

Once all the fittings were done, the team of volunteers and hundreds of students flooded the skate park to try skateboarding for the first time with Tony Hawk and his team. Their faces and Tony’s endearing smile left everyone with hope from ear to ear. 

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