Rob and Gayle Bridges, of Huntsville, Ala., feel a connection to country songwriter Jeffrey Steele, whose 13-year-old son, Alex LeVasseur, was killed nearly four years ago in an ATV accident.
The Bridges’ son also was very severely injured in an accident, and although his son recovered, Rob said he feels a bond with the songwriter he met in the early 2000s at the Panoply Music Festival in Huntsville. That’s what prompted Rob and Gayle to drive two hours to the Brentwood YMCA to help rebuild the 10-year-old outdoor skate park that will be named in memory of Alex.
The park, where Alex learned to skate, was severely damaged by the flooding in May. That’s when the LeVasseur family stepped in and offered to help rebuild the park.
“He loved skateboarding and wanted to become a professional skateboarder,” said Casey LeVasseur, Alex’s older sister. “This is a great way to memorialize him and give him a dream he didn’t get to have.”
The new park was designed by Donny Myhre, a retired professional skateboarder and owner of the Franklin Skate Shop. A Florida-based crew that has built ramps for the X Games and Sixth Avenue Skatepark is building the park, which should take about three weeks to complete.
Jason Salzer, director of teen programming at the Brentwood YMCA, said one of the highlights of the revamped park would be a full wooden bowl — essentially a half-pipe that is closed on the ends to make a giant bowl.
“The new park will have much more of a flow and will mix verts [ramps and bowls] with street course [sidewalks, picnic tables, handrails],” Salzer said, noting that 25-35 kids use the skate park each day.
Funds for the skate park project — which is expected to cost $80,000 to $100,000 — will come from the Alex LeVasseur Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
The family also provides an incentive-based scholarship program at Rocketown for students interested in skateboarding.
So how would Alex feel about the new park?
“He’d think it was pretty awesome, and he’d wish he could be the first person to skate in it,” Casey LeVasseur said.