RJ, 17, splits most of his time between the skate park and the hospital.
Born with a gastrointestinal disorder, RJ has had more than 80 surgical procedures in his life. At the most recent peak of his illness, RJ was forced to miss out on major parts of his high school experience; for RJ, this especially meant the hardship of staying away from his scooter.
"I didn't really have time to go and hang out with any of my friends, and I barely saw them at school,” RJ said. “Most of all I missed riding my scooter, even if was just for a few [minutes] a [ride] always made the day better.”
With his passion for riding, choosing his wish was easy; he wished to design a custom-built scooter.
"As soon as I was told about the wish I knew that I wanted to go somewhere to build a scooter,” RJ said. “Riding scooters is like an escape for me. If it's just not one of those [good] days, go grab a session and clear your mind. It's what I put most effort into, sports-wise, and all I have wanted to do since I got into scootering [was] to go see a shop and ride with some pro riders.”
Visiting a professional scooter shop on his own was not an option for RJ.
"There isn't any of that near me, really,” RJ said.
He knew that to get the scooter he wanted, he would need to go to the Vault Pro Scooters shop in Culver City, Calif. So RJ set out with his family to design his new scooter with the help of Sean Cardwell, a pro scooter rider at the Vault.
RJ designed his custom scooter with little guidance from Sean, and the shop filmed the entire process for their YouTube channel. Once the custom build was complete, they took a limo to Westchester Skate Park for RJ to take his first ride on the new scooter.
"The best part of my wish was honestly just getting to spend the day hanging out with Sean Cardwell and my little brother, building parts and riding,” RJ said. “It was an unreal meeting Sean and then going to build and ride my scooter.”
RJ even picked out his own grind rail that he can use to practice new tricks at home. RJ works on keeping himself healthy enough to ride his scooter and learn new tricks, giving himself a goal to focus on every day as he struggles with his chronic illness.
“Never lose focus of what you love doing,” RJ said. “My dream is to ride for a pro scooter company, and after seeing The Vault Pro Scooters, It just made me want to reach for my dream even more and keep on fighting to get there.”
His focus is on riding, and when he’s on his scooter, his gastrointestinal disorder becomes secondary in his mind; with his new scooter, all that matters is how well he’s riding.
“The wish meant the world to me,” RJ said. “All I do is focus on bettering my riding and having a good time doing it.”