SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – While skateboarding may be just another fun activity or hobby to do leisurely in your spare time. For one local skateboarder, it was his life. Andrew Grabowski grew up right here in Syracuse and at a young age was immediately drawn to a skateboard.
His father, Jeffrey Grabowski, says that by the time his son Drew, as he was called, was in high school, he was skipping class to go skate and practice his latest tricks. Jeff says he would frequently get calls from Henninger High School reporting Drew’s absence. He would then get in the car and head towards one of Drew’s usual spots and find him there doing what he loved, skateboarding.
Jeff knew that his son had a passion for the sport that went beyond any normal obsession. He knew is was love. Drew had so much love for skateboarding that he wanted to share and spread the joy he got from it, with others.
His father recalls questioning how frequently Drew would get new sneakers, unaware that his son had been giving his spare shoes to others’ so that they would have the right gear to get started.
After becoming a professional skateboarder, Drew had the option to travel to bigger markets but chose to stay home. He became a role model in the community and wanted to influence the next generation of skaters by growing the sport he loved and give others the space to practice their skills which is why he was a major part in the development of two of Syracuse’s skateparks.
On June 17, 2022, Drew was hit by a car and died at 29 years old. Just a few months after releasing his first skateboard that donned an orange basketball jersey in dedication to his love for Syracuse.
Not long after his son’s passing, Jeffrey started the Skate-4-Drew Foundation as a way to continue his son’s legacy and memory.
“To show everybody that Andrew cared about skateboarding a lot. It’s all he lived and breathed and he wanted to show everybody, you know, and help everybody do it,” Jeffrey said.
This love is what launched the Valentine’s 4 Drew event. To honor Drew’s passion for helping others and giving them an opportunity to learn how to skate. Friend, fellow skater and Vice President of the Skate-4-Drew Foundation, Jordan McGriff, reminiscences on his most fond memory with Drew being a barbeque in his backyard just months before his death. When asked about how he wants his friend to be remembered, his answer was simple.
“The best skater ever. Honestly, like skateboarding came so natural to him. He was the rawest form of skateboarding that I’ve ever seen,” Jordan said. “He wanted to dedicate his time to skateboarding, whether it’s on the board or whether it’s just giving back within the skate industry like, that was Drew.”
The event, taking place Feb. 18 and 19 at Black Mamba Skate Park, offers free skateboarding along with best trick competitions and other fun skateboarding games. 30 free skateboards will even be given away to those age 14 and under so the love Drew had for skateboarding may hopefully pass onto the next generation.
“I just want people to remember him, ” Jeffrey Grabowski said, “to remember, you know, what he did, what he loved to do. And that’s what I’m trying to give back now is his joy of skateboarding.”