SpeakUp ReachOut auctioning off limited edition Eric Harlan skateboard decks
Auction benefits nonprofit’s mission to prevent suicide in Eagle County
In losing a lifelong friend to suicide, Dan Purtell often asks himself if there was something he or anyone could have done to change the devastating outcome.
Eric Harlan needed help, he needed people to talk to, and he didn’t want to burden his friends and family with those problems. SpeakUp ReachOut might have been able to get Harlan the help he needed, Purtell said, but the organization was still too new, too unknown and unfamiliar to reach someone like Harlan.
Following Harlan’s death in 2020, local artist Nell Davis surprised Purtell with a gift — eight skateboard decks bearing Harlan’s picture as a way to remember their friend. The skateboard decks contain a picture of Harlan enjoying a moment of flow as he performs a complicated trick.
The font used to write “Eric Harlan Forever” on the deck is called “Brothers,” symbolic of the sibling-like relationship Harlan had with Purtell and others who he grew up with in California and remained close with in Colorado.
Harlan’s face is tinted blue, and behind him a yellow backdrop is symbolic of mental health awareness. The color yellow became a symbol of mental health awareness in 1994 when 17-year-old Mike Emme died by suicide. Emme was a friend to many who could be depended on for transportation help via his yellow car.
The board contains a pink tail, which is also a shoutout to Harlan’s style.
“He liked bright colors and he’d wear pink shirts,” Harlan said. “He did that before you started seeing it become popular with guys in hip-hop and all that.”
Gazing upon Harlan’s deck, the thought occurred to Purtell that perhaps these decks could provide a bridge between the services SpeakUp ReachOut provides and the streets where their services are so needed.
“I just want to do anything really to let people like Eric know that SpeakUp ReachOut is there and can help,” he said.
Harlan gave SpeakUp ReachOut three of the decks, which the nonprofit is currently auctioning off to help with its mission of preventing suicide in Eagle County.
The decks are currently being auctioned at https://www.facebook.com/groups/568215901150379, and the auction runs through noon on Friday.
While Purtell expects that the scarcity of the decks will make them collector’s items, “I hope someone does ride one of them,” Purtell said. “I think Eric would have liked that.”