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Leland Nisky

Leland Nisky

Photo by Lisa Nisky

On Sunday, Feb. 19, Leland Nisky, a Kailua resident and a senior at Maryknoll School, skated downhill through Hawaii Kai on the final leg of a journey around the island on his homemade skateboard. That evening, he arrived tired and muddy at a house in Waimanalo the same house he had set off from two days earlier. It also was the same house that Nisky had helped construct several months earlier with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an international organization that builds decent, safe and affordable housing for people in need. Throughout that weekend, Nisky skated from Waimanalo to North Shore via Kaneohe, and then back to Waimanalo via town, camping in a tent at night. This 120-mile journey was all in the name of raising money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity.

Nisky’s skate around the island is part of his senior project at Maryknoll. For his project, which he named Skate For Humanity, Nisky wrote a research paper about the science of building a skateboard and then built his own longboard.

“The next step we had to do was to give back to the community, and I knew right away that I wanted to raise money for Habitat,” says Nisky, who has been volunteering with the organization since 2008 through an after-school club when he was living in Hong Kong. It was a club trip to the Philippines that really solidified Nisky’s passion for the organization. The group stayed in Manila for a week to build an apartment complex for various families many of whom worked with the students to construct their future home.

“We got to work right next to the people who we were building the houses for,” he recalls. “It felt really cool working with them and seeing what you actually did.”

Since moving to the Islands from Hong Kong a year and a half ago, Nisky has volunteered with Habitat’s Honolulu chapter. In addition to the home that he helped build in Waimanalo, he also worked on a house in Papakolea.

Nisky’s Skate For Humanity certainly was a grueling journey he skated for about three hours the first day, five hours the next day and 10 hours on the final day. There were times, he admits, that things were difficult, especially during a long uphill skate through Central Oahu. But he made it through the rough patches in the road, and as he arrived back in Waimanalo, he was struck with a new burst of energy. Sure, his whole body felt sore. But mainly he felt proud and hopeful that his journey might help more families benefit through Habitat’s work. “I was stoked that I could donate money and help contribute more to its cause,” he says.

To learn more, visit skateforhumanity.webnode.com. To make a donation to Nisky’s campaign, write a check to Honolulu Habitat for Humanity (include attn: Skate For Humanity), 1136 Union Plaza, Suite 510, Honolulu, HI 96813. For more information on how to get involved with Habitat for Humanity and about volunteer opportunities, visit honoluluhabitat.org.