After the Donation: SF Skate Club's Donated Car Is Still Rolling Along

van donation
The van that Regal Collision in Vallejo, CA, donated to the San Francisco Skate Club four years ago is still going strong.

Back in 2014, Regal Collision in Vallejo, CA, presented a completely refurbished van to the San Francisco Skate Club that is still running strong.

The organization had been using a van that was barely hanging on, so when Regal Collision stepped up to provide a “new” one four years ago, it meant a lot to the children of the SF Skate Club and one of its founders, Shawn Connolly.

Connolly, a former professional skateboarder who operates the nonprofit organization with his wife, Thuy Nguyen, is impressed with the vehicle's longevity after putting more than 120,000 miles on it.

"It's pretty amazing, that's for sure," he said. "For the first two years, we let the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center use it during the week, taking students to and from school every day, so it got a lot of use. And then on the weekends, we used it for our skating events and Bay Area camps during the summer. Countless kids have been transported in the van, and it's still hanging in there."

The San Francisco Skate Club strives to provide a safe, positive and fun environment for youth of diverse backgrounds to pursue their passion or desire to skateboard, meet and form friendships with other young skaters at the SF Skate Club and learn from experienced skateboarders who are role models in the community.

"I know that Regal Collision has given away a lot of vehicles to deserving people over the years, but I would bet that our van has been utilized more than any of the others," Connolly said. "Now we are loaning it to an organization called FACES SF that helps low-income families with things like early childhood development, workforce training, enrichment programs for kids and family support services."

By staying on top of its maintenance, the van has only required a little TLC due to considerable wear and tear, Connolly said.

"The crew at Regal gave us a vehicle that was in amazing mechanical condition,” he said. “We had to fix a door and do a few minor mechanical things, but other than that, it's been mostly minor upkeep. Regal Collision put off-road tires on the van, so we're still using the same tires, and the vehicle has easily passed two smog checks as well."

Connolly still looks back on the day when the shop presented him and his young skateboarders with the van.

"Traveling to Regal Collision from San Francisco with all the kids was a bonding experience and special for the children,” he said. “When the kids saw the van, their eyes got big and they were so thrilled. For the past four years, we have had good, reliable and safe transportation, and the van is now a part of the family. We want to personally thank Jim and Shellie Boyle for this incredible donation!”

Co-owner Jim Boyle at Regal Collision has given away many cars over the years, but this one really stands out for a lot of reasons, he explained.

"Once I met the kids, my initial thought was, ‘I want to help them succeed in any way I can.’ Skateboarders are artistic and adventurous and could be future technicians, so there was a connection right away. I'm so happy to hear that the van is still going strong and that they've gotten so much use out of it. It has touched a lot of lives and enabled them to do things they might not have been able to do without the transportation, and that's exactly what our mission is with our Benevolence program," he said.

To emphasize the stylish aspect of the van, the techs at Regal Collision, led by Production Manager Kirk Kapfenstein, added some nice touches to the vehicle, including red bumpers, pinstripes, cool rims and the organization’s motto painted on the van: “Skate with a Friend.”

The van came along at the perfect time, Connolly said.

“Our old van had reached the ‘classic’ stage, so this refurbished vehicle is a real plus for the SF Skate Club. The people at Regal Collision are amazing, and we couldn’t be more grateful," he said.

The van giveaway was part of the AkzoNobel Benevolence Program, a community relations program that generates goodwill at the local level while improving and promoting the image of the collision repair industry as a whole.

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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