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Turning skateboards into art for breast cancer fight
Frank Alvarado shows off one of the custom skateboards auctioned off last year to benefit cancer charities. On Friday, he’s bringing back the event – dubbed “Paint and Destroy” – at the Main Street Café on Yosemite Ave. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Things have definitely changed for Frank Alvarado over the course of the last year.

After founding skateboard company Vida Loca Skateboards, and fulfilling a lifelong dream in the process, Alvarado decided to put on an auction-fundraiser that raises money for Board for Breast Cancer – a cause that became near and dear to his heart after he lost lifelong friend Katy McKenzie to cancer almost two years ago.

He went out and purchased more than a dozen blank skateboard decks, tapped his artistic and creative friends for their help in designing and painting the boards, and prepared them for an auction that would raise money for an event that he got to take part in on behalf of McKenzie while she was still alive. Despite her frail condition, she still made the trip up to Lake Tahoe, and stood along the 27-mile route that Alvarado completed in its entirety.

The event raised $2,300 and became so popular that when planning the event for this year, which takes place Friday at the Main Street Café at 6 p.m., he actually had to turn away people who wanted to paint boards because he didn’t have any left.

“This year we’ve got 40 custom-painted boards that we’re going to be auctioning off, and the support that I’ve had so far has been amazing,” Alvarado said. “I painted six of them, and we turned to local people to finish the others. We’re hoping to double the amount that we brought in last year, and we have a professional auctioneer that says he can do that.

“We’re really looking forward to the community support and are thankful for all of the support that people have already shown.”

While skateboarding is a lifestyle that Alvarado has fully embraced, linking it to causes that are close to his heart is also something that he has seamlessly incorporated into both his business and his personal life.

Initially, Alvarado got involved with “Skate the Lake” – a cancer fundraiser where people would cover 27 miles of trails all the way around Lake Tahoe to raise money for research – and brought the model back to Manteca with his own local take. “Ride the Tide” – a 13-mile trek down the Tidewater Bikeway, was a success when instituted earlier this year, and a plan is in place to extend the ride to almost 20 miles next year.

But Paint and Destroy, the name given to Friday’s art show and auction, is what he’s focused on now.

 And support for the event has been coming from every direction.

On Tuesday, Alvarado was contacted by the Lucky 7 Tattoo Studio and 209 Think Ink – local businesses that donated hand-painted boards right off of the walls of their own businesses to support the cause – showing the solidarity and the widespread community following that the fundraiser, in only its second year, has been able to accumulate.

With the rest of the boards he sent out for people to customize, the final touches are now being put on Paint and Destroy – which has also generated a viral buzz on social-networking sites like

“I’m grateful for the support we’ve received, and am really looking forward to seeing the turnout at the event on Friday,” Alvarado said. “Skateboarding is something that means a lot to me, and so does this cause, and I’m glad to be able to put both of them together and hopefully make a difference in the fight against this disease.”

Paint and Destroy will be held on Friday, Nov. 19, at the Main Street Café – located at 1464 W. Yosemite Ave., across the street from Save Mart. The event begins at 6 p.m. with complimentary refreshments, and menu items that will also be available for purchase. Admission is free, and the auction begins at 7 p.m., with the entire event wrapping up by 9 p.m. For more information, contact Alvarado at 482-2115.