Marshall Oberlander, 23, rode his Razor scooter through the Dew Tour crowd so he could keep up with his parents, Suzanne and Chris. As he stepped into the sand, he removed his Emerica skateboarding shoes, the ones just like the professional athletes wore that Sunday evening.
“I have the shoes they have,” he said.
The Special Olympics athlete took numerous souvenir giveaways and brought a wheel-less skateboard to collect all the autographs he could. Marshall also took pictures of his favorite athletes, including Bucky Lasek, of Dundalk, Md. But when asked about his favorite skater, Marshall pointed to his picture of someone else.
“Well, yes, he’s your favorite after Sunday,” his father said.
Brazilian skateboarder Pedro Barros had just won the skateboarding bowl final. Marshall and his parents watched as Barros received a wooden trophy plaque made by Ocean City’s Plak That shop.
“The Town of Ocean City contacted me in May to do the awards,” said Wyatt Harrison, Plak That owner. “This was just another way they thought I could provide a unique award for the event. It took a little back and forth to get the design and quantities down but the response was great and everyone seemed to like the idea.”
The crowd dispersed and the family followed the direction of security personnel as they made their way down the grandstand’s stairs. Suzanne noticed an exit under the stands and whisked Marshall over, figuring athletes would soon be coming out of it.
Kalani David, 15, of Hawaii, came out first and met with the family. Suzanne offered a “mahalo” and she said he appreciated the Hawaiian thank you. Barros exited next and Marshall wanted an autograph.
“I remember why I got distracted, I couldn’t find a pen!” said Suzanne. “All of the sudden, I heard, ‘Dude, you are so kind.’”
Barros autographed his trophy plaque and gave it to Marshall to keep. Suzanne watched her grinning son with his new favorite athlete through her camera lens. She then began wiping away tears.
“I about bawled,” she said. “It was so cool. Everybody was in envy.”
When asked what he thought about his autographed trophy, Marshall simply said, “Yes, I like it.”
Marshall competes with the Adam’s County, Pa., Special Olympics kayak team at home. The family lives 35 minutes from the Susquehanna River and Suzanne calls them “river people.” Marshall said kayaking, however, is not his favorite sport.
Despite knee and open-heart surgery, he can be found skateboarding, biking and riding his scooter with his friends. He enjoys the skateboarding video games, playing with Tech Decks finger skateboards and visiting bike parks. Suzanne said she now knows Tony Hawk’s name from buying his clothing line at Kohl’s and is very familiar with Shaun White after shopping at Target.
Marshall counted nine signatures on his skateboard and Suzanne said she hopes to coat it in polyurethane to save it. She wants to mount it on Marshall’s wall next to Barros’ plaque. After keeping the Dew Tour a surprise for Marshall, Suzanne said it was a good day.
“I thought it was just awesome,” she said. “Some people just notice and have compassion. One Special Olympics athlete had a great experience with a very generous Pedro who just lit up his world.”
Harrison was there for the meeting and said he could tell Barros made Marshall’s first time at the Dew Tour special.
“They had seen the awards over the course of the weekend but never dreamed of being able to take one home, let alone signed, from the event,” said Harrison. “I was so happy to be a part of Marshall’s experience at the Dew Tour and can’t thank Pedro enough for being so generous. For him to share the excitement of winning a huge event with a fan is one of the reasons events like this are so great. The walls between celebrities and their fans come down and dreams are fulfilled.”