BRADENTON -- Mike Smith, skater, volunteer and owner and creator of "Skate for Change" and "The Harbor," spoke recently with students and staff members of Bayshore High School.
Smith's series of inspirational videos online called "The Harbor" teaches lessons about character, helping others and making the most out of what you do.
Smith's "Skate for Change" organization has about 100 chapters in cities all around the world. It is about helping those who need it doing anything from clothing or feeding the homeless to giving at-risk youths a safe place to be.
Before Smith gave his speech at assembly in the Bayshore gym, he greeted and took pictures with as many students as possible. As he started speaking, the whole student body seemed captivated by his story laughing at jokes, clapping and even cheering.
Smith talked about his childhood, getting enough money for his first skateboard, having to move and how he felt like a "ghost" his freshman year. He said as he grew taller and bigger, he started to become cocky and mean to others.
That changed, however, during his senior year when his family found out his dad had cancer.
One day he thought: "Is my dad going to be proud of me?"
As he looked in the mirror, he said: "I hate this kid."
He started to change himself for the better. He trained to get a basketball scholarship so he could go to college and started to treat people better.
He also started to change attitudes of his friends and befriended a lonely freshman named Calvin.
After asked if there was anything he could help with, a college professor took him to a nearby bridge where many homeless people were living. This sparked an idea about helping the homeless and others.
He told his Bayshore audience they may be like how he was in high school and feel invisible, but he believes they could achieve greatness.
Before he left, he took more pictures with many students, and gave some final words: "I hope you remember that all of you mean something, you matter, you're important, and you guys all have an opportunity to go do big things."
Information: Go to mikesmithlive.com.