It all started when...

by Lynda Lee

Five years ago on Father’s Day, tragedy struck our family and my brother Charlie died at the age of 22 years old.  As devastated as we were, we all knew he was meant to do so much more in life. We began putting together a sign up sheet for those who were interested in helping to honor his name.  Almost a year later, that sign up sheet became an idea that has now morphed into a real possibility.  Land that had been the home to several generations of BMX bikers and skateboarders was being sold and the trails, jumps, and obstacles that had been carefully honed throughout the years was now subject to trespassing.  Outraged, my Mother went to the town meeting to express her heartache at my brothers sanctuary, as well as all the other teens and young adults in our area, being taken away.  Many family discussions later, Charlie’s eldest niece said “Let’s build a skate and bike park.”  For a 13-year-old it seemed so simple, but wait, why couldn’t it?  So, The Charlie Boone Trails Memorial Foundation, Inc. was born.  What better way to honor Charlie’s memory than to create a place he would love in which everyone in the community could enjoy!  

Since that time, my family has worked very hard to spread awareness and support for building this sanctuary for our youth. We are happy to say that we have gained tremendous support and enthusiasm from the movers and shakers in the county and we are very close to finding a site.  Lake Ridge has been Charlie's and his family’s home for over 38 years and this is where we'd like to build cement riding and skating structures, dirt jumps, walking trails and sitting areas.  This park is a place where kids of all ages can go to safely ride, skate and spend time.  To cultivate friendships and have experiences.  To feel pride in nailing that trick or jump and have your peers cheer you on!  To create a space of sanctuary to just feel the wind in your hair and the difficulties of being young, something that can seem so trivial as an adult, but is so real at the same time, float away.  A safe space.  

Right now, it's obvious that building a skate and bike park will cost money, but its so much more than that.  We really want to make this effort something that all communities can connect with and model after in the future.  To do that, making this campaign 501(c)(3) tax deductible is first on our list.  Did you know even that costs money? So we are currently asking for your help in raising funds for this status.  That way, as we grow we can give back something as a thank you for your help in making this park - Charlie’s memory and a local sanctuary for our youth - a reality.

On a more personal note from Charlie’s big sister:  The day my brother died was the darkest moment of my life.  To anyone who has lost someone they love, you absolutely know how this feels.  What you don’t know is that after a bad motorcycle accident, my 22-year-old brother was so overcome by pain, anxiety and depression that he felt suicide was the only way out.  He would say “Lynda, do I take my pain medicine so I can go to work comfortably or do I save it for my day off so I can ride my bike?”  He always chose his bike.  It was the day he was getting ready for work that he decided he just couldn’t take anymore.  Having three children myself, two of whom are teenagers, I hear all too often about kids their age feeling this choice is the only choice. Just last year our county had over 5 teenage suicides in a month's time.  With all of the expanding in our communities, outdoor places are being bulldozed to make the next mini mall. Even the Vans Skate Park that used to be in the mall by our home was shut down!  Kids that have friends, a healthy outlet and a place to go when they are in pain don’t choose to hurt themselves.  They choose to challenge themselves with the next Ollie or jump with a spin.  They choose to strike up a conversation with another kid or, like my brother did, help those younger to perfect the trick they were working on. 

Suicide and self harm for our youth is becoming more and more frequent, almost fad-like.  Help us show these kids there are better ways to work through their pain.  Every small step leads to a greater one.  I believe this park to be the first of those steps for our community.  Thank you.

“Sometimes darkness can show you the light”... by Disturbed