TAMPA — In Matthew Woods' 2014 obituary, the 23-year-old's family asked well wishers to send donations, in lieu of flowers, to Boards for Bros, a non-profit that helps kids get the supplies and lessons they need to learn to skateboard.
For three years Woods worked behind the counter at Skatepark of Tampa, the non-profit's headquarters. He was heavily involved in the organization's mission to give free boards to local kids who couldn't afford their own.
"Everyone looked up to him," said Corey Bowser, 26, one of Woods' close friends. The two would often use Woods' key to skate at the park after it closed for the night. "Skateboarding can get kind of cliquey, but he was very accepting towards everyone. He would always be the first guy to give his brand new board to someone who didn't have one."
On Jan. 3, 2014, Woods was fatally struck by a car while crossing Palm Avenue in Ybor City. In his memory, Skatepark of Tampa is hosting a Boards for Bros build day Saturday. Volunteers hope to build more than 200 skateboards.
Friends say Woods was a strong believer in the transformative power of skateboarding. He saw it as a tool for personal development; something that gave underserved kids a creative outlet and a sense of purpose. He built boards, gave free lessons and was happy to give his students a ride home afterward.
"Matt's heart and smile was in everything he touched and people loved him. He was a very special person," said Brian Schaefer, owner of Skatepark of Tampa.
He often received notes and letters from customers praising Woods for going above and beyond.
"Matt was practically the Skatepark's mascot."
The build day starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Skatepark of Tampa, 4215 E Columbus Drive. Volunteers and donors skate free.
Contact Helen Anne Travis at [email protected]