Student leader Sam Riehl to take part in Costa Rica skateboard park build
Sam Riehl, a student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was one of 16 university students selected by Red Bull to take part in Social Impact Spring Break, an initiative to help build a skate park for an underserved community in Costa Rica.
Social Impact Spring Break is a joint venture with other organizations, including The Sheckler Foundation, Journey and DIVERTcity. Ryan Sheckler, a renowned skateboarder, is part of the mentioned foundation and will be present to help break in the park.
Sam Riehl, a junior in industrial design, said he was surprised to find out about Social Impact.
“A few weeks ago, I didn’t know much about it,” Riehl said. “You know, I don’t skate. I haven’t skated in a really long time. To tell you the truth, never had Red Bull.”
Sam explained he had received an invitation through Red Bull to put together a submission; one which would capture his leadership qualities and earn him a chance to join Social Impact Spring Break.
Two nights before the submission date, Riehl put together his video submission.
“I was on pins and needles for about two weeks to see if I would get it,” he stated. “Because I submitted so late in the game, I didn’t have time to submit anything award-winning.”
The trip involves the design and building of a skate park, so for his video, Riehl explained how he borrowed footage of himself, with permission, from a friend’s video. It featured Riehl’s blacksmithing work and Riehl’s discussion of community involvement.
Jake Gremillion is a friend of Riehl’s at UL Lafayette and a junior in university studies. Gremillion discussed how he couldn’t be more excited to find out Riehl had won the opportunity.
“Once we got into college, as a freshman in UNIV 100, we were part of The Big Event, which was about going around Lafayette and picking up trash,” Gremillion stated. “It filled litter letters Sam had helped create, so seeing him make the actual letters with the trash my class had picked up, I could see how much of a leader he was in that initiative.”
As a freshman, Riehl said he had loved the concept of the litter letters. Gretchen Vanicor, director of sustainability at UL Lafayette, approached Riehl as potential help for building the litter letters.
“I was thrilled, so we took a few weeks, but we made eight-foot-tall letters and used the #yardwork.” Riehl said. “It made a pretty big impression, I think. And we’ve used the same letters for three years now.”
“Seeing the type of guy Sam is and the services he’s provided to the community and the surrounding communities, he truly deserved this trip,” Gremillion said.
Riehl said he always enjoys looking for ways to help the local community and said he is currently working on a project with classmates. They are designing products for stroke victims to use, so they can do things they once used to be able to do.
The plan for Riehl and the other 16 students is to stay in San Jose and help build the skate park for the community. Then, they will go to the coast and reflect on their experience together.
“As far as knowing stuff about San Jose, I know there’s a lot of green,” Riehl said. “It’s Costa Rica, but that’s about it. I’ve never been to Costa Rica.”
Riehl said he’s going to be missing some class time—the trip began on March 31 and continued until April 5 — but he’s staying on top of things.
“Luckily, my professor used to be a skater and knew of Ryan Sheckler,” he added. “He did mention that I was going to have a lot of work to do, but as long as I get my work done before hand, I’m not too worried about it.”
Riehl said he is looking most forward to meeting people; both the students he’ll work with and the people they are building the skate park for.
“It’s the human connection that makes it absolutely worth it,” Riehl said. “That’s what gives it meaning, the people that are involved.”