ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Brennan Gagnon is soaring above and beyond with a new idea to give back to his community.
The West Augustine youth worker and teacher at R.J. Murray Middle School is building an 11-foot tall and 24-foot wide vertical skate ramp in his backyard.
When Gagnon closed on his first home this past year, he knew he wanted to create something special for kids in the community. The plan: build a massive ramp, give it a cool name (Datil Pepper Vert Ramp) and create something for children in the community to use, according to Gabby Ervin at Old City Public Relations.
Gagnon decided to pursue his dream of providing a safe space for kids to come together and experience something new.
“Vert skating offers a unique set of thrills that a lot of skateboarding doesn’t offer,” Gagnon said. “Skateboarding, in general, offers two unique opportunities. Both the community and the people that you’re able to meet are incredibly special. I thought to myself, ‘If I’m ever able to become a homeowner, I would love to raise the money or save the money and build a vert ramp for kids to use, create friendships, develop confidence, and just really conquer something.’”
The project has raised more than $12,000 for material and labor, while additional funds for a staircase, ladders, fans and lights are still needed.
A GoFundMe was set up to help with these funds. Once the goal is met, excess donations will go toward purchasing skateboards, helmets and protective pads for kids who don’t have their own.
“Skateboarding offers an outlet,” Gagnon said. “Growing up can be tough on young kids, and the kids where I live are under the highest amount of stress, so it just seemed natural to open up that space. It is also an excellent opportunity for cross-cultural relationships and friendships to form between local residents and those outside the community who might never have stepped foot in West Augustine otherwise. I want to give a huge thank you to anyone who has given this project any ounce of attention, money, or time.”
Once completed, Datil Pepper Vert Ramp will be available for all members of the community to use free of cost.