TAMPA (FOX 13) - When you think of Cuba, you might think about 50s-era cars, cafe con leche and cigars. But, how about skateboarding?
A group of skateboarders from Tampa are hard at work in Cuba right now. Not only are they helping to develop a skate park, they're also passing out skateboards in a country that's often left with little to no resources when it comes to the sport.
Their mission is to deliver the gift of skateboarding.
"We kind of packed up the skateboards and said a little prayer and sent them on the plane," said Michelle Box, Executive Director of Boards for Bros.
Boards for Bros, the charity tied to Skatepark of Tampa is joining efforts led by the Miami charity, Amigo Skate. There's no concern about a language barrier. "Skateboarding really is a universal language," Box said.
The biggest obstacle is the one they're building: Cuba's first concrete skate ramp, made out of an unused drainage ditch. The construction is taking place without any involvement or approval from U.S. or Cuban authorities.
"There is not an official skate park but as skaters do, they do it themselves," Box said. "It's absolutely thrilling. We feel skateboarding should be in everyone's lives, regardless of your economic or cultural background."
All of this was planned to coincide with international Go Skateboarding Day on Wednesday. Just like they do around Tampa, the group is passing out 100 skateboards. Transporting them was no easy task. They had to be transported in pieces and assembled once in Cuba.
"We actually had all of our skate campers help us assemble some of the wheels and bearing assemblies and do some of the preparation work," Box said.
13-year-old Trip Miller is one of the young volunteers, and proud to share the sport he loves, near and far.
"It's really fun to build skateboards," Miller said. "Skateboarding just gets everyone to have fun so I think it's really cool that they're doing that."
Michelle said President Trump's announcement on Cuba did not change or deter their plans
The group has a week-long itinerary, which includes a mural painting, skate ramp contest and skate parade through Havana. She said they haven't heard from the group since they left - no pictures or Facebook posts. But, she said she assumes that no news is good news and they're finding plenty of work to keep themselves busy.