ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – Fundraising is underway to bring a skate park to the City of Pacific in honor of a local serviceman killed in action in 2012.
Jeffrey White Jr. graduated from Pacific High School in 2008 and enlisted in the United States Army in 2009. After attending Airborne School at Fort Benning, he deployed to Afghanistan in December 2011. He was killed by an I.E.D in April 2012.
“He had such fun and such adventure, he really had fiery determination and just had a fire for life,” said Paula White, his mother.
While growing up, White loved skateboarding, his mom said. He picked up the sport when he was 13-years-old and was always pushing the limit.
“He would skate and skate, he was very determined, you’d watch him do a trick 300 times until he got it right,” she said.
As he entered middle school and eventually high school, he was admired by fellow skaters and friends for his talent, friend Jared Cattoor said.
“He was always pushing himself to the limit and doing things nobody else would try, like jumping off roofs and things like that,” he said.
Without a skatepark, the boys typically found themselves in parking lots and nearby buildings practicing their skills.
“I’m sure they went to many places where they weren’t supposed to be,” White said. “There’s been a longing for something for kids to do in this town for a long, long time.”
Cattoor said to honor his friend and provide a new activity for kids in town, he approached the city about creating a skate park.
Steve Myers, Director of Community Development for the City of Pacific, said the idea received unanimous support from city officials.
“There’s nothing for kids to do, that’s something I’ve heard time and time again,” he said. “This is going to make Pacific’s parks a place people want to come.”
That’s because Myers said improvements to the city’s tennis courts and pool, both located within Pacific City Park, are coming. He’s hopeful the addition of a skatepark will serve as a catalyst for other recreation improvement projects.
“They’re doing tremendously, they’ve taken the responsibility by the horns and I think they’re going to make it happen,” Myers said.
Cattoor said his organizing committee is aiming to raise $150,000, with the hopes of finding grants to match that money in the future. Currently, Cattoor said the group has raised about $17,000, but more is needed.
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For $120, a donor will receive an engraved brick to be placed at the park. Every donation, large or small, is helping the vision become reality, Cattoor said.
“We want to honor and memorialize Jeff and this was something he loved to do so it’s fitting,” he said. “But we also want to bring something to town for kids to do.”
White’s parents are excited about the project and thankful their son will be remembered for something he was passionate about.
“When they said they wanted to go with a military theme and they really want to dedicate it in Jeffrey’s name, of course, we are so grateful and so thankful,” Paula White said.
American Ramp Company of Joplin is helping with the design, Cattoor said. Myers said the likely location for the park will be at City Park near the soccer fields, but that decision is pending final approval.
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