‘Skateboard-a-thon’ tops $11,000

While fewer youth than hoped for showed up Saturday afternoon at the ’52 Canadians Arena, the “skateboard-a-thon” to raise money for a proposed skate park here looks to have been a success.
Organizers, so far, have counted more than $11,000 in pledges.
“The kids that showed up were very enthusiastic,” noted Steve Maki of the Fort Frances Kiwanis Club, who is spearheading the skate park project. “On average, the kids that were there raised $155 each.
“We didn’t get as many kids out as we’d have liked to see,” he admitted.
Maki noted organizers knew about 500 pledge forms had been picked up by local skateboarders at their respective schools, but only 72 youth came out for the “skateboard-a-thon,” with a few more who got pledges but simply couldn’t attend Saturday.
“I can’t explain it,” said Maki, who guessed some of the kids may not have gotten their parents’ permission, couldn’t commit to the fundraising, or simply picked up pledge sheets due to peer pressure.
“It was great,” said Gord McQuarrie, owner of Skates and Blades and head of the skate park youth committee. “It would have been nice to see more kids, but there was a lot going on this weekend.”
McQuarrie, who acquired 11 skateboards to give out as prizes to the top pledge-getters, said because some pledges are just coming in now, the winners aren’t known yet.
Some of the youth on hand were very vocal in their support of the proposed skate park, which was seen unanimously as an asset to the community.
“It’s awesome. Kids are really coming out to support it,” said Danielle Shine-Bedard, a local teen who collected a petition with more than 150 signatures on it back in January.
She then submitted a request to town council for Mayor Glenn Witherspoon to follow up on his promise to see a skate park built made during his 2000 election campaign.
“It’s finally going to become a reality. We’ve been hoping and waiting for so long,” she added. “I think it will get the kids off the streets. They won’t get into trouble if they’re skating at the park.”
“I think it’s important because kids won’t have to mess around town,” agreed Gabe Lavoie. “And we won’t have to skate around [the arena parking lot] anymore.
“People won’t be annoyed with us as much.”
“Everybody’s into skateboarding,” echoed Lauren Pierce. “If you have a place to go, kids aren’t going to get into trouble.”
“There’s a lot of kids who skateboard,” concurred Andrew McComb. “A skate park would keep them off the streets.”
“i think it’s a good idea. There’s quite a few skateboarders in Fort Frances,” said John Kinnear. “I’m quite sure [a skate park] would get a lot of use.”
“I think it should’ve been done a long time ago,” added Robert Galloway.
“It’s something for the skateboarders to use in the winter,” noted Stephen Gillon. “There will be a lot of kids coming out when it’s built. The [International] Falls kids probably, too.”
The skate park is expected to end up being a 14,000 sq. ft. concrete park—which resembles a bowl-like, empty swimming pool—on a site near the Memorial Sports Centre.
The cost of the project, which may see construction begin in the spring, is estimated at $300,000.
Maki noted the next steps in fundraising include applying for a Trillium grant from the province, and working together with the local Canada Safeway, where employees recently chose the skate park project as their adopted charity for 2003.