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A Look Back With Danny Keith

What’s it like to speak at TEDx? ‘Super cool’

Danny-KeithA dozen years ago, Danny Keith was a surfer with a surf shop near Pleasure Point. He’d grown up on the east side of Salinas and was a young, single dad. One day he heard an alarming statistic about low-income kids in Santa Cruz that led him to collect food for Second Harvest Food Bank and later start a nonprofit, Grind Out Hunger.

Then in 2012, Danny had a chance to be a TEDxSantaCruz presenter and talk about his fight to end childhood hunger. One in four kids are hungry in Santa Cruz, he said, and kids can be empowered to help change that statistic.A dozen years ago, Danny Keith was a surfer with a surf shop near Pleasure Point. He’d grown up on the east side of Salinas and was a young, single dad. One day he heard an alarming statistic about low-income kids in Santa Cruz that led him to collect food for Second Harvest Food Bank and later start a nonprofit, Grind Out Hunger.

What was it like for him to be a TEDxSantaCruz speaker?

“It polished me,” Danny said this week, sitting in the sun not far from The Hook. “It was super cool to be coached as a speaker. I’m not someone who gets a lot of coaching.”

The 2012 TEDxSantaCruz event was also an opportunity to bring a new demographic — that of a local surfer and skater — to the stage. Keith joined 16 other speakers, from a poet laureate to a hip hop vocalist, to a 3D designer.

“It put me in a creative pool that I might not have otherwise encountered,” he said. “It broadened my mindset.”

Over the years, Danny figures he’s helped collect donations for 2 million meals for local children. Grind Out Hunger is looking for a new location, a place big enough for children to skate, and Danny is working as director of sponsorships for the Santa Cruz Warriors. But he still has “one foot on the street,” as he puts it, where he can make a difference in the world.

“I am who I am,” he says. “I’m challenge-oriented, and I want to fix this hunger thing.”

See and hear his 2012 TEDxSantaCruz:Open talk here, called “If I Only Knew Then What I Knew Now.”