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Township park benefits from Brooksie Way grant



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May 23, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- Warriors wanted.

The township parks and recreation department was recently awarded a Brooksie Way Minigrant in the amount of $2,000. Recreation Director Fred Waybrant will use the funds for a Life Trail Advanced Wellness System in the Brandon Township Community Park, 1414 N. Hadley Road.

Waybrant and Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman applied for the grant in March from the Brooksie Way, a non-profit organization that encourages children and adults to engage in more physical activity. The Brooksie Way Half Marathon is a race held annually in October and named in honor of the late Brooks Stuart Patterson, son of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. Proceeds from the race fund the minigrants, nine of which were awarded this year for fitness-related projects.

"I'm very excited to be chosen as a recipient for the grant," said Thurman. "The Brooksie Way Foundation is doing wonderful things in our county."

Thurman and Waybrant will use the grant funds to purchase equipment including a rope climbing wall, monkey bars and a balance beam, all of which will be located in the passive area of the park where the tree library is located.

In the grant application, Waybrant wrote that the Life Trail Advanced Wellness System would be a series of 10 activity stations "built on the principles of functional fitness" and used by older children and adults. "The stations will be a series of challenging exercises to promote muscle development and good health. The users will have the opportunity to use each station at their own pace with as many repetitions as they choose. As a result, users will become stronger and have more energy to complete the real-life activities that matter most."

They will also be part of 10 total exercise stations that are being planned for the Brandon Warrior Warm-Up, a 2.5K or 5K obstacle course race planned for July 14 at the park. The race is a fundraiser for the park and occurs two weeks before the Warrior Dash.

"We will give people a taste of what the Warrior Dash will be like," said Waybrant. "There are obstacles, it's timed, with different age groups... We got creative with the obstacles. It's different and fun, and all the funding goes to a good cause."

The park, which opened in 2008, needs funds in order to develop. Soccer fields are a popular feature of the park, which also has a play structure, pavilions, sledding hill and lift, and tree library. But baseball fields have yet to arrive, as well as volleyball, tennis and basketball courts, and concession stands— all of which were in the original plans for the park.

When the economy stalled, so did development of the park. The township board has halted applying for matching grants due to budget constraints.

"Baseball fields are still five years away, unless the township board allows me to keep writing grants," Waybrant said. "The DNR told me they love our park, it's the perfect park, keep writing grants. We were on a roll, then the economy went bad and we stopped the grant writing."

Now he is dependent on in-kind services, fundraisers, donations and sponsorships to improve the park. Still, Waybrant said he is seeing signs of economic recovery.

"We are having our best year since 2007 with soccer and baseball registrations," he noted. "I attribute this to the ongoing pursuit of making meaningful recreation happen in this community. More and more younger kids are coming up. Non-residents are back up to where they used to be— 25 percent of all participants."

Brandon Recreation had just under 700 participants this spring for soccer, baseball, and beginning sports, he added.

"We are running the hockey program for the first time in three years. Those are indications to me that things are getting better."

Registration deadline for the Brandon Warrior Warm-Up is July 2. Cost is $35 for the 5K and $25 for the 2.5K. For more information, visit

www.warriorwarmupinbrandon.com.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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