Janesville74.3°

Boys ride effort for skatepark

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Stacy Vogel
January 20, 2008
— At a young age, Grant Mahr, 13, Gavin Mahr, 11, and Brian Forss Jr., 13, might be getting the greatest civics lesson of their lives.

With the help of their friends, the boys have created presentations, talked to city council members and organized fund-raisers for the past two years and are finally in sight of their goal—a skatepark in Central Park.


Meanwhile, they’ve been an inspiration to adults around them and a uniting factor for the community, their parents say.


“I see (the effort) as a real catalyst for different groups,” said Brian’s father, Brian Forss Sr. “There seems to be—I don’t know how to describe it—the community really seems to support this.”


Before the Edgerton project began, a skatepark was the dream of the Mahr brothers. The boys love to skateboard, and their mother, Jeanne Purnell, often drives them to nearby parks.


“We all thought it would be pretty cool to have a skatepark in our town,” Grant said.


So the boys circulated a petition. They got a couple hundred signatures and presented it to the city parks and recreation committee.


They didn’t stop there. They created a thick binder full of research about skateparks in Wisconsin. Then they actually traveled to the parks to take pictures.


“We’d pile a bunch of kids in the car and call it ‘going on tour,’” Jeanne said.


Grant later turned the information into a PowerPoint presentation for local civic groups to raise awareness and money.


Brian Jr. got involved around the time the boys made a presentation to the city council in August 2006. At the time, he had never skateboarded.


He got a skateboard for Christmas that year and realized he didn’t like the sport much. But he still wants to support his friends, he said.


“I just got involved because some of my friends skated, and I wanted to help out,” he said.


His dad eventually got involved, too. Now, Brian Forss Sr. and Jeanne head up the Skate Park Committee, but it’s the kids —more than 100 in all—who are driving the effort, they said.


“The kids were just impressive,” Brian Sr. said. “The least I could do was help out.”


Many of the children and teens involved spent their summer washing cars and selling bottled water to raise money for the park. Grant organized a “hat day” at Edgerton Middle School where students could wear hats to class for a $1 donation to the skatepark.


So far, the kids have raised about $11,000, not to mention thousands of dollars in donated goods and services.


In October, the city council approved the committee’s first choice for a location, Central Park. The city also included $12,500 in its 2008 budget as a matching grant for the project.


The grant gives the committee enough money to lay a concrete slab in Central Park, which it hopes to do this spring, Brian Sr. said.


Grant, Gavin and Brian Jr. know they have a lot of work in front of them. Even after the slab is installed, they will have to raise another $15,000 to $20,000 for the ramps, Brian Sr. said.


But the boys like to focus on the future.


“It’s going to be awesome,” Gavin said. “(Central Park) is a perfect location, right next to the pool.”


As for Brian Jr., he’s got some practicing to do, his father said.


Brian Jr. finally is going to have to learn to skateboard now that the slab is going in, he said.


BRIAN FORSS JR.
Age: 13.
Community: Edgerton.
Grade: 7.
Family: Parents, Brian and Paula Forss; sister, Autumn Forss, 11 (also helps with skatepark fund-raising).
Hobbies: Sports, especially basketball and football. Brian also likes baseball and is involved in Boy Scouts. He recently got a new puppy (an American bulldog named Ellie), so she takes up a lot of free time.
Career goals: To become a CEO of a large company and to help make the world a better place.
How long have you been skateboarding: Brian got his first skateboard for Christmas last year and is still learning.
Favorite skateboarding move: Doesn’t really have a favorite move.
GRANT AND GAVIN MAHR
Age: Grant, 13; Gavin, 11.
Community: Edgerton.
Grade: Grant, 7; Gavin, 6.
Family: Mother, Jeanne Purnell; father, John Mahr; stepmother, Amy Mahr; sister, Gabrielle Mahr, 3.
Hobbies:

Grant: Skateboarding, snowboarding, golf, baseball, hunting, paintball, snowmobiling, collecting stickers, taking videos and pictures, acting.


Gavin: Skateboarding, snowboarding, golf, baseball, paintball, snowmobiling, collecting stickers.


Career goals: Grant, artist or actor; Gavin; unsure.
How long have you been skateboarding: Grant, age 6; Gavin, age 5.
Favorite skateboarding move: Grant, Rock to Fakie; Gavin, 50-50 Grind.

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