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Maryland skateboarder goes viral for heartwarming interaction with stranger

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Posted at 10:37 AM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 13:37:02-04

BALTIMORE — What started as a small interaction in Baltimore has turned into inspiration for people around the world.

In between showings in Federal Hill Sunday, realtor Alyssia Essig parked at the Museum of Industry to eat lunch.

It’s where 19-year-old Asen Gyenyame was practicing a tough skateboard trick.

“I probably sat there for a solid 20 minutes watching him continue to try,” said Essig. “I know the power of being told that someone believes in you, so I just thought I’m gonna hop out of the car real quick, give him a little love, and then be on my way.”

And that’s what she did, unknowingly on camera.

“Whatever you do in your life, you’re going to knock it out of the park. Only because you’re sitting here, busting your (expletive) to nail this one trick. You’ll do that the rest of your life,” Essig told him.

“I didn’t expect what she gave me,” said Gyenyame.

He was inspired. Minutes later, he nailed the trick. The next day, he decided to post the interaction on TikTok.

“It got a lot of traction,” said Gyenyame.

In just a few days, it has captured the hearts of millions of people.

“I think we made the world a little better just because of it,” said Gyenyame.

But Essig had no idea… until her husbands’ friend in California saw it on Reddit.

“I was crying reading these comments because it seems like people are so starved for love and attention and affection, “said Essig.

They hadn’t even exchanged names.

Scripps Baltimore station WMAR’s Abby Isaacs found them both on social media. It brought them together for a heartfelt reunion Thursday at the place they met, the Museum of Industry parking lot.

“I love your energy, so thank you so much for giving me that support,” said Gyenyame to Essig.

What they gave the world as inspiration, but they got something out of it too.

For Gyenyame, it was supporting.

“We can support each other, and everyone doesn’t have to stand alone and be by themselves. A lot of people have the mindset, even I do. That’s why I was skating alone, that you have to do it by yourself and that’s the only way, but you can reach out to other people, and it can be beneficial for the other person,” said Gyenyame.

For Essig, it was affirmation.

“I have a very big loud personality, and I struggle. Not everyone likes that. A lot of people think it’s too much or too loud or too in your face, but when a million people like it and 30,000 comments are like, ‘You’re amazing.’ ‘Your energy is 'awesome,' it’s very reaffirming like you know what no I’m actually pretty okay and I can be who I am,” said Essig.

The pair have vowed to stay connected and carry positivity into their everyday lives.

Essig wants to start sharing words of encouragement on her TikTok page @alyssiaessig_realtor, and Gyenyame hopes his newfound following on TikTok @skatevibes01 will help turn his passion into a business where he teaches kids how to skateboard.

Abby Isaacs at WMAR first reported this story.