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Two friends embark on 850-mile trek to 'Shred America'
By Jamie Sotonoff | Daily Herald Staff

Arthur Swidzinski, Mike Kosciesza, both of Niles, Anthony Michael, of Park Ridge, and James Lagen of Des Plaines gather in Millenium Park in Chicago as they depart for their skateboard trip to New York.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

The four-man Shred America team is, from left to right, Mike Kosciesza of Niles, Tony Michal of Park Ridge, James Lagen of Des Plaines and Arthur Swidzinski of Niles. Kosciesza and Swidzinski will ride skateboards from Chicago to New York City.


Courtesy of Tony Au

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Published: 6/2/2008 12:01 AM | Updated: 6/2/2008 10:13 PM

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Can they really do it?

This morning, Mike Kosciesza and Arthur Swidzinski will hop on their skateboards and ride 850 miles, from Chicago to New York City.

They'll be videotaping their monthlong trip -- and all of the adventure and drama they encounter -- and making it into a documentary called "Shred America."

The adventure is set to begin this morning in front of the Bean in Millennium Park, where a group of family and friends will see them off. They hope to make it to Gary, Ind., by nightfall.

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"We're as ready as we can be," said Swidzinski, a film student at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, "but I'm starting to freak out a little bit. We're going to try and go 50 miles a day. But one day after another? That's going to be pretty tough. I think we're going to throw in a day of rest. We'll have to."

Kosciesza and Swidzinski, both 20-year-old Niles residents, are childhood friends who have made movies together since their days at Maine East High School. They'll be accompanied on their trip by two cameramen riding bicycles, James Lagen of Des Plaines and Tony Michal of Park Ridge.

Since it's illegal to ride skateboards and bicycles on highways, the route they've mapped utilizes bike paths and side streets through small towns. They plan to stop at the Indiana Dunes, in Amish country, and at the World Trade Center site, among other sites.

At night, they'll either camp out or crash on friends' couches. They've refused vehicular back-up in order to maintain authenticity.

While they don't have a final destination in New York, Kosciesza said they'll probably stay for a day or two and see the sites, and then take a Greyhound Bus home.

After months of preparation, which included lining up sponsors and endurance training, Kosciesza said there's nothing left to do but go for it.

"We're still worried about the Appalachian Mountains," he said, "but we're confident that we can do this."

For more on their film, go to