Our skatepark build in Fairfield, Iowa wrapped a few weeks ago. After a “quality control” session from the build crew, they packed their tools and hit the road for new projects in California and Maryland.
At first glance it would appear this project wasn’t uniquely different from all of the others, but something about the way this skatepark touched the small community of Fairfield left a lasting impact on one of our crew members – Mike Marrone. So much so that he felt compelled to put his thoughts to paper. He passed along the following words with a big disclaimer that he is not a Harvard-bred writer, but the message is just too good not to share. Enjoy.
“I am incredibly lucky to travel our wonderful country building skateboard parks with some of my best friends and family. And the impact we have on kids, families and neighborhoods is so rewarding.
Every now and then we enter a community where they just let you in like one of their own. One of these was a town by the name of Fairfield, in the State of Iowa. We arrived on site and for the next few weeks we would go about our day trying to build the community the best skatepark we possibly could – feeling welcomed and appreciated by the locals throughout.
On one of our shotcrete days a mother and her son show up on site to see what’s going on. Their names are Joy and Henry Craig. Henry is 7 years old. From that point forward they show up every day, getting closer to the action every day. As they got closer and closer, we started talking more and more and getting to know each other. On the day of our last concrete pour, which was a small 3-yard pour, Henry and Joy came walking up, so I called them over and gave Henry my trowel. “Go ahead” I said, “Do it like this” and with only a little bit of instruction, he was off to the races without hesitation. It was really cool to watch.
That was a turning point in our connection with Henry and Joy. Towards the end of the build, Henry and Joy came to the site. Henry had his skateboard with him. We let him test the bowl with us – showing him the fundamentals on how to pump. His skateboard wasn’t very high-quality and was limiting his progression so I put him on mine. I could immediately see his passion and potential.
A few days later, the crew and I decided to buy Henry a legit skateboard just like ours – a full complete. During our final walkthrough with Fairfield’s City Engineer, Henry and Joy come walking up to say goodbye, having no clue about the skateboard. I finish the walkthrough and walk up to Henry and Joy. As I hand the board to Henry, I say “Every now and then we come across kids that touch our hearts in a special way, so here you go buddy!”
His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and he said “THANK YOU!!!!”
We set up a time to come back later and skate with him one last time before we hit the road. He loved his new board. We traded contact info and finally said our goodbyes. A few days later I was getting messages from Joy showing Henry’s progression on the skateboard. He hasn’t stopped since and is getting better and better. They are really thankful for us showing him the way.
The point of my story is that we are not just a group of crusty skatepark builders who build and get out of town as fast we can. We are helping build the future of local kids as human beings and skateboarders. These kids look up to us and we have the opportunity to become role models.
I want to thank Spohn Ranch Skateparks, Mark Bradford, skateboarding and last but not least Joy and Henry Craig for making me realize that we can do much more than just build a skatepark. Because of them I now see things in myself that I didn’t know I had and I will become a better human being from this. Thank you so much.”