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The Robert Leonardi Memorial Fund is touching kids today and the youth of the future with playground equipment at Daly Elementary School and Hamilton Middle School.

Two height-adjustable basketball hoops with glass backboards at HMS and two at the DES have been installed from the fund.

On Thursday, three tetherball pads and poles were installed with the memorial funds and donations.

“Robert loved tetherball,” said Mark Yoakum, Robert’s grandfather. “Tetherball is a big deal for youngsters. They tell me that sometimes kids wait line their whole recess for just a couple of turns. This will give the kids six tetherball poles.”

Robert Leonardi was nine when he was struck and killed as he attempted to cross Golf Course Road in Hamilton on July 9. He would have been a third grade student at Daly Elementary School. Community fundraising and donations have poured into the Robert Leonardi Memorial Fund.

Chris Jessop, Jake Jessop (JB Concrete) and Danny Gates (Gates Irrigation and Landscape) donated the labor for the tetherball pads installation. J&J Construction did all the prepping.

Chris Jessop organized the project.

“It hasn’t been complicated, just fun,” he said. “These are the first round pads I’ve done in a long time but now that I’m looking at it, it is going to look really nice. It just looks beautiful.”

Chris Jessop said that the meaning of it spurred him and others into action.

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“I just want to make sure these are done well and done right and that they’ll be here forever,” he said. “They will be a lasting memory for Robert. Everyone will come out and look at it and those who don’t know will ask who he was.”

Jason Cardullo, owner of the Screening Room, initially designed the logo for Robert’s friend’s baseball team to put on their helmets. The logo is Robert’s initials - “RL”, a halo and angel wings that was cut into steel plaques by Garret Middleton and Isaiah Nelson at Corvallis High School shop class. The logos were worked into the concrete near each pole.

“The logos will be his touch and everyone will know that these were dedicated to him,” Chris Jessop said. “Kids will be asking about the plaques and adults can tell them it is for Robert. It will be something that always comes up as the plaques will be there forever. I think it is super important that he is remembered so everyone can know wonderful and how special of a little boy he was.”

He said he did it because it matters.

“For me it is personal,” he said. “Mark Yoakum is my friend, Phil (Robert's father) was my teacher and I’ve known Alyce (Robert’s mother) forever. Everyone is involved in track. We’re a family. We take care of each other when something happens to our community that is hard, devastating and tragic. For me it is personal and I wouldn’t have missed out on it for anything. It’s for Robert. It’s for their family.”

Danny Gates said he volunteered his time and skill because his dad is Phil’s second cousin and that family and community matter.

Most of the materials were funded from the Robert Leonardi Memorial Fund.

Next week, the kids should be playing on the tetherball courts, poured in Robert’s name.

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