Edmond-born BMX star Mat Hoffman was given an appropriate nickname — “The Condor” — because he defied gravity.
Hoffman is using his celebrity to communicate an important message to youth through a public service announcement produced in collaboration with Edmond Family Counseling for its Be Edmond project, which is designed to provide crisis intervention information among other items to local teens. The PSA, which also features Poos Tae Kwon Do, CityLink, Citizens Bank of Edmond and Twist and Shout, can be viewed at www.beedmond.com.
In his all-star riding career, Mat has had dozens of broken bones and more concussions than he can count, not something to brag about. But all can relate to his ability to persevere and succeed.
Mat was raised on trampolines and started jumping on them when he was age 2. By age 6, he was a pro at backflips. He progressed to inventing combinations of tricks. He enrolled in gymnastics to demonstrate his skills, but dropped out after being limited at first to the balance beam.
When he was age 7, he was banned from riding a go-cart after he drove it into his brother Travis, who was on a motorcycle, while playing chicken, leading to getting stitches in his wrist. He also got in trouble for trying to jump a work truck over a barrel in the horse area on the family farm. He damaged the truck and had to work random jobs around the house to pay for it.
Building airplanes also helped fuel Mat’s desire to fly. So did the clandestine activity of jumping bikes off the roof of the house into the pool. His brother Todd came up with the idea, which migrated to Travis and then Mat.
“My parents uncovered our extracurricular aquatic activities and shut us down, but not before I’d felt a few brief moments of how much fun one could have with a bicycle and some air,” Hoffman wrote in “The Ride of My Life.”
He then graduated to motorcycles, a process that helped him master the art of crashing. Riding with a cousin on the Draper Lake Trails developed his thirst for independence and adventure.
Mat’s first BMX bike was a red Mongoose, used for his own entertainment and to get around Edmond. He progressed from basic robo-style popping and locking moves to gyroscopic maneuvers.
His life changed when he went to the Edmond Bike Shop to pick up his brother’s birthday present, a Skyway TA frame and fork. Its tubing and welded seams screamed for a new ride for new times. His parents built the first ramp for their sons. Then came a quarterpipe.
At age 11, Mat rode a ramp for the first time. His brother held him on his bike over the edge of the ramp. Without warning, his brother let go.
“In a split second my mental outlook had been changed by a burst of accidental action, erasing the limitations that existed in mind,” Mat wrote. “I wanted to try it again, without second-guessing myself on what I could or couldn’t do.”
By age 14, Mat had earned national notoriety for his skill, passion and daring on a bike. At age 16, he was the youngest pro rider in BMX. He is known for inventing more than 100 tricks including the 900, Flip fakie (a backflip that includes landing backwards) and Flair (a backflip with a 180 degree turn).
Hoffman created the Bicycle Stunt series, which gave riders a place to compete and showcase their talents. The series’ success attracted ESPN, which partnered with Hoffman Promotions in the mid-1990s to produce and televise it.
Edmond filmmaker Bunee Tomlinson, Red Chair Productions and Freestyle Productions produced the PSA featuring Hoffman. Jackie Shaw of Edmond Family Counseling said she is amazed at how willing the actors including Hoffman, and Major League pitcher Ty Hensley, the former Santa Fe High School star, have been to (pardon the pun) pitch in.
Kathy Matthews, an Edmond Family Counseling staff member who is coordinating the project, said the Mat Hoffman PSA was released Friday and can be seen at www.beedmond.com and on YouTube.
“I think it is great that our community is coming together for this and we want everyone to realize that this will be something new for teens,” Matthews said.
Edmond Family Counseling via Be Edmond also is developing an app to connect Edmond youth with crisis intervention and community support in a variety of areas.
Shaw said $10,000-$12,000 is needed to be able to finish the project before the start of classes this fall. On Mother’s Day, persons affiliated with the project will be seeking donations from Edmond churches, a way to honor moms, Shaw said.
Those who already have contributed, like business partner Citizens Bank, which gave $20,000, are helping change lives for the better, and organizations including the Edmond Ministerial Alliance are endorsing it, Shaw said.
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