The Mark Park Fundraiser
Organized by: Paul Bestgen
EVENT DATE Aug 30, 2015
On August 19, 2008, my 16 year old brother Mark committed suicide. His death devastated my family. Just like that his smile was gone and all we had were memories. While the pain was strong, the experience brought us all closer together. However, our hearts still had a void. Almost immediately after his death my family started building a park in Mark's honor to help fill that void. My mom came up with the idea and called it "The Mark Park". Since then my family has created a wonderful world where everyone can share a smile and enjoy life's many joys.
The park features a shelter for gatherings, large jungle gym, several swings, 2 lighted volleyball courts (Mark loved volleyball!), a pirate's ship, fishing dam, swimming dam, paddle boards, gazebo, large water fountain, horse shoes, dart boards, a designated, fenced in play area for toddlers and several other wonderful activities for everyone. We host movie nights, volleyball leagues, family nights and dart tournaments. My family allows extended family, friends and the local public to use the park for wedding receptions, family reunions, birthday parties, neighborhood gatherings, play dates, school field trips, among other things, without charging a fee. We are so grateful for those who donate when they use the park, but we don't expect it. The goal is to give those who need a smile a place to see how great life is. To forget any negatives they may be experiencing and have a few hours of positives. I am so proud of my family for building this park, maintaining it and sharing it with family, friends, neighbors and even complete strangers. They spend hours each week getting it ready for others to use.
I will always remember one of the first stories I heard about the park right after it was created. A family friends' 16 year old grandson was visiting and spent the whole afternoon on the water and enjoying the park. We didn't even have that much built at that time. Before he left he gave my dad a hug and said it was one of the best times he had ever had. My brother was 16 when he committed suicide. I know at the moment this teenager hugged my dad and said those words, The Mark Park had fulfilled it's purpose. This wonderland provided a teenager with the smiles inside that were missing from my brother's world. Since that day thousands upon thousands of smiles have been shared at The Mark Park. I am asking for your help so thousands more can be created.
Operating the park costs a lot of money each year as you can imagine and those costs are growing. Electricity, sewer, lawn care, repainting, trees, fences, cleaning, toiletries, irrigation, etc. My family does most of the upkeep with the help of a few kind volunteers. When we have the opportunity we expand, planting a new tree or adding a new bench. While The Mark Park is lucky to receive donations from family, friends and those who visit, the operating costs outweigh the donations and my family pays the difference. They do this willingly because they want to share the joy that The Mark Park has given them with others. However, I would like to help them continue to operate the park and expand without digging so deep into their own pockets. I need your help.
We would like to create a new Old Western Town for 6-10 year olds featuring a bank, jail, school, stable or other buildings symbolizing the Old West. The buildings would be about the size of small storage shed. Tall enough for a 10 year old to stand up inside and big enough to move around a little. This always gets put on hold because something else needs repaired or the electricity bill is due. I am hoping to get their project started this year!
We all have charities and causes near and dear to our hearts. They are all important. Please don't steer a donation away from those amazing causes. However, if you are able, I would appreciate a small donation to help operate and expand The Mark Park. Every dollar will bring endless smiles in the years to come. My brother will never be forgotten because his smile lives on in each one that is created at the park. Thank you for your kind heart. Now go tell someone you love them and give them a big hug. You never know when they might really need it. I miss Mark so much and think about him often. I wish I could give him one more hug.
Thank you so much!