The Circle 13 Skatepark is hosting a Skate Jam and Competition fundraiser at Bitter Root Brewery Oct. 15, and a father/son talk about the power of a skatepark and the positive impact on youths.

The Rapp Family Foundation recently gate the Circle 13 Skatepark a $30,000 grant to partner with businesses to host fundraisers to meet the goal of completing a skatepark in the Claudia Driscoll Park in Hamilton this June.

Trent Atkins, of the “Trent Atkins and the Workers” band and a professor at the University of Montana, will offer live music at the Bitter Root Brewery event. Atkins is donating his time and talents toward building the Hamilton skatepark. He lives up the East Fork, and his sons, Emerson and Atticus, are often at the Darby skatepark.

Atkins said skateparks provide youths with a feeling of community acceptance.

“As an academic, I have largely focused my prevention models for youth,” Atkins said. “At the end of the day people need to feel they are accepted into a community. It is much less likely that a kid is going to get in trouble in an environment where she or he feels they belong. Skateboarding and skateparks provide that comfort to kids who might otherwise feel isolated.”

Atkins said as a parent he wants his children to be safe and active. He's taken his children to skateparks all across the country, and they always felt safe and accepted as a family. He added that people underestimate the physical requirements of skateboarding.

“It is one of those activities that takes a certain kind of athlete that you don't often find on a court or a field," he said.

Emmerson Atkins, 11, learned on a more advanced skatepark before moving to Darby, but the town has a great skatepark for beginners and he likes to ride there.

“It means a lot to me to have a skatepark in Darby; my brother has football practice and I go there until 5:30," he said. "You have fun at a skatepark and practice pro-tricks. I like hanging out with friends there.”

Hamilton resident Finn Dufresne, 10, said he has to travel 20 minutes to Darby or Stevensville to skate and is looking forward to having a skatepark in Hamilton.

“I’m in fifth grade now and am looking forward to having something to do after school while I’m in middle school,” he said. “It will be great to have a family skatepark. I enjoy family skating time with my dad, and my sister Lila, who is 7.’”

Bryan Dufresne, Circle 13 president, said he appreciates the $30,000 Rapp grant.

“The Bitterroot Valley is fortunately to have the Rapp Family Foundation,” Dufresne said. “We can't thank them enough for their commitment to the skatepark and our local communities. This grant is a giant step forward to build (the Hamilton skatepark) next summer, but we still have work to do. Our board is busy writing grants and trying to find local businesses to partner with us."

Dufresne said the Circle 13 Skatepark currently has $99,000, but that Jeff Ament and Bill Watkins have pledged to match funds raised by the community. He explained that if Circle 13 raises $108,000, then Ament and Watkins’ matching funds would total $216,000, bringing the total amount to build the 13,000-square-foot skatepark to $324,000.

Dufresne said Circle 13 Skatepark volunteers are attempting to partner every month with a local business for a fundraiser.

The next fundraiser is a Skate Jam and Competition at the Bitter Root Brewery that is donating 50 cents of every beer sold from 4-8 p.m., Oct. 15. Circle 13 Skatepark volunteers will be selling T-shirts and raffle tickets for a Bustin' Boards longboard and a coupon for a pair of Vans custom shoes. The competition will have prizes for skaters.

"We hope to get a huge turnout of local skaters, so the community can see the need for the skatepark along with sheer joy these experience when participating in this healthy, active sport,” Dufresne said. “It should be a tremendous event with fun for the entire family."

Circle 13 is planning a dinner and silent auction on Nov. 17, and partnering with Big Creek Coffee from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 25.

“Big Creek Coffee is going to donate all proceeds, not just profits, for all drinks sold,” Dufresne said. “We are looking for a business to match those funds, so along with Bill Watkins' pledge, every dollar spent would equal three for the park.”

Dufresne said, that due to the match pledges, now would be an excellent time to make a tax deductible donation. Donors can visit the website circle13skatepark.com, or mail or deliver a check written to Circle 13 to Ravalli County Economic Development Authority, 274 Old Corvallis Road, #A, Hamilton, MT 59840.

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