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Unified Beaufort wants to take you roller skating

6 mins read

By Margaret Evans

More than a year ago, Tim Garvin promised himself he’d find a way to bring roller skating back to Beaufort. On Saturday, Nov. 27, he’s making good on that promise.

The founder and president of Unified Beaufort, Inc, and his VP, Til Maddox, are working with a company called Neon Entertainment, out of Buffalo, N.Y., to bring the ultimate skating experience to Port Royal. The event, called PopUp & SK8, is just a small part of their big idea – the one they call Unified Gents.

Their long-term goal, according to Maddox, is to “give the community back to itself,” by engaging and mentoring local kids – specifically boys – and nurturing their appreciation of this place where they live.

“We want to help them build a sense of identity,” said Maddox. “A sense of pride about the land they live on, and the people who have walked this land.”

He and Garvin, who already hold weekly mentoring sessions for boys at USC Beaufort, envision field trips to Hunting Island, Penn Center, Fort Fremont, and other area landmarks that many local kids have never had a chance to visit.

But first, the roller skating.

“We see a need in this community,” Maddox said. “And we’ve been learning how we can plug into that need, be a piece of that puzzle. We’ve learned that when it comes to really making a difference with young people, you have to ask yourself: What are you giving them to do?”

Tim Garvin agrees. He has long worried that Beaufort’s youth don’t have enough to do.

“We used to have it all here,” he told Lowcountry Weekly back in July. “A movie theater, a bowling alley, a roller rink.”

Now, they’re all closed.

Tim Garvin & Til Maddox of Unified Beaufort, Inc.

An avid skater, himself, who caravans with carloads of friends to a Savannah roller rink every weekend, Garvin believes kids with nowhere to go, and nothing to do, are kids who tend to get into trouble.

“If we brought a roller rink back to Beaufort, I guarantee you the crime rate would drop tremendously,” he said.

What’s so special about roller skating?

“First of all, it’s great exercise,” Garvin said. “But it’s also mental therapy. It makes you feel free spirited. When you get out there to skate, you leave everything on the wood. Everything you’ve been through that week, that month, that year … When you hit the wood, you leave that on the wood. It’s like you’re starting over.”

PopUp & Skate is happening the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and Garvin and Maddox see it as something fun that families can do together, especially with those who are home for the holiday weekend. There will be two skating sessions: An afternoon “Day Skate” for all ages, and a “Glow Skate” for adults, at night.

Neon Entertainment is bringing everything needed to transform the empty warehouse at the end of Paris Avenue into a magical roller rink like the one many of us remember from childhood: a wooden floor, music, lights, even roller skates.

DJ Livechild, from Savannah’s Star Castle, will provide what Garvin calls Crowd Control.

“The DJ creates the atmosphere,” he said, “and this DJ is great!”

“There will be roller skates available to rent,” Maddox said, “but there’s a limited number, so we encourage anybody who has skates to bring their own. And if you know you’re going to be renting skates, we encourage you to buy an Early Bird ticket, so you can reserve your size in advance.”

What if you haven’t skated in years? Or even decades?

“Don’t be intimidated,” Maddox laughed. “You just need to get back out there. With roller skating, once you have it, you never lose it. This is family stuff. It’s easy. If you can walk, you can roll.”

Maddox and Garvin are hoping PopUp & SK8 will be the first of many such events. They’re considering purchasing their own portable roller rink and taking it to locations all over Beaufort County. They see PopUp & SK8 as their chance to learn the ropes.

“We’ve found, with Unified Gents, that transportation can be an issue,” Maddox said. “The kids can’t always get to us, so we need to find a way to get to them. It’s one thing to give them a place to go; but we want to be able bring that place to them.”

It sounds like a lot of hard work, but Maddox and Garvin never expected any of this to be easy. They have a big idea and they’re committed to seeing it through, whatever it takes.

That’s how they roll.

Margaret Evans is co-publisher of The Island News and Lowcountry Weekly. She can be reached at editor@lcweekly.com.

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