Tonawanda News

Local News

May 16, 2014

Cookout to raise funds for expansion of skatepark

Tonawanda News — A skatepark named in memory of a Tonawanda teen may soon get an upgrade thanks to a local nonprofit and two award-winning chefs. 

The Gregory Hayes Holler Community Skatepark was built in memory of the teen who died unexpectedly in 2008.

The GHH Memorial Fund is holding a cajun-cookout fundraiser on Sunday, which will include food by JJ Richert and his brother, Kevin, who own Torches, Smoke on the Water and the Garage Deli, to raise money for an expansion of the skatepark. 

The event runs from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at Eastern Park on Fillmore Avenue.

“After we have the fundraiser, JJ, Kevin and I are going to see exactly what the kids want,” Don Holler, Gregory’s father, said. “There’s no definite plan yet, we’ll have to see what happens financially and what they want when we see the dollars and cents, but the kids are excited.”

Gregory was a BMX rider, and after he died, his family began organizing a fundraising effort to build a new skatepark in his memory. The community raised $80,000 in 2010, with a big chunk coming from the Pepsi Refresh Project and an additional $5,000 from the Tony Hawk Foundation.

The Richerts were also involved, hosting a pig roast for the effort.

“We raised quite a bit of money at the roast,” Holler said. “Since then we became close friends.”

The Hollers originally envisioned a 10,000-square-foot facility, but decided to build a smaller version to provide kids with a park sooner rather than later. 

After years of fundraising and construction, the 5,200-square-foot facility in Ives Pond Park opened in 2011. Local teens, as well as kids from outside the Tonawandas, immediately began frequenting the park, bringing their boards, BMX bikes and inline skates.

Once the project was complete, the Hollers’ efforts transitioned to raising money for the park’s maintenance, scholarships and other charities.

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