New playground opens in Hillsville
Carroll Wellness Center Director of Fitness Operations Kurt Thiele nailed the ribbon cutting description for ‘Britni’s Discovery Park’ in Hillsville on Saturday.
After the rain clouds parted and the sun shone, he told the large crowd attending the event, it really was like a ribbon cutting in the movies.
“There were so many hands that helped make today and this playground a reality. There’s absolutely no way to thank everyone, so this is just a thank you blanket… if you came to pick up trash, thank you. If you spread mulch, thank you,” Friends of Hillsville spokeswoman LeAnna Surratt said.
City Manager Retta Jackson’s moving speech also praised the cooperation in making the inclusive playground (which was funded entirely by grants and contributions) at the Center a reality. She told attendees that she is normally reluctant to speak in public, but it was an event she was happy to talk about.
Teresa Catron, who is Britni’s mother, said that while three years seemed like a long time, the project went faster than she had expected.
“It’s thanks to everyone who gave of their time, sweat equity, encouragement and support. I was asked to do a little story about how it all turned out product. It’s Britni and she loves to swing. She’s always on the porch playing her keyboard,” Catron said. “I realized a few years ago that we didn’t have a swinging pitch. accessible game. I thought…well…we’ll have one.
She said that on Britni’s 27th birthday (she turns 30 this year), they asked for playground donations instead of gifts. In less than two months, $3,000 had been raised.
“People were giving money without even…we didn’t have a place to put it yet…I knew it was going to happen. If I learned anything from her, it was tenacity. A few months ago, Retta and LeAnna asked me what you’d like to call it. I said I wasn’t sure. I wanted to make it catchy. They said they wanted to name it after Britini with our blessing so we were delighted with that. We want it to be a playground for children of all abilities to not only play together, but to learn from each other. I am so proud to be part of a community that recognizes and responds to these needs. “
Individuals and organizations credited with making the playground a reality included the Twin Counties Community Foundation for its funding, the staff and board of the Carroll Wellness Center for providing the property (along with Thiele and Chief Operating Officer administrative Michaela Smith receiving a special shoutout), The Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, The Woodlawn Ruritan Club, Game Time amusement equipment company, Laura Beth and Brian Parnell, Surratt for her leadership on the project, the Schools Division Carroll County Public Service, Hillsville City Council, Town of Hillsville, and Town employees and staff for their hard work. She particularly credited the city’s public works department staff for “suddenly having to learn how to build a playground with instructions that were anything but simple to follow.”
“I volunteered to speak because it’s very near and dear to my heart and so are the people involved,” Jackson said, his voice cracking. “I would also like to thank, last but not least, two very important people who were the inspiration for this park. They started this project. It was totally their idea. They were ready to get donations to fund this. They are special to me personally….and the town of Hillsville….Britni and Teresa Catron.Without each of the organizations, businesses and individuals who helped him, this wouldn’t have been possible at all.There are so many organizations and individuals active in our community. I cannot express how grateful I am and our staff and the Town of Hillsville are for them. I just want you to know that there is more to come at this park Stay tuned for the future and expansion of Britni’s Discovery Park.
Thiele said the occasion reminded her of the Emmys because of “so many thanks.” He said the center couldn’t thank the participants enough for attending the ceremony. He told the crowd that he had never been to a ribbon cutting before and marveled that the giant pair of scissors was real. Thiele said the center was approached two years ago and was “all about it from day one”.
“The Wellness Center’s vision of fitness and community improvement was a good fit with the city and the Friends of Hillsville. It was definitely a project…they had a bit of a push back…Covid and all…but they worked diligently and we’d like to thank the city and the friends. The center is a 501c nonprofit. Everything we do in the city is community based,” Thiele said. “We would like to thank all of our sponsors here for the food.”
Mayor Gregory Crowder said the project taught him to never say never, especially when Catron showed him the initial price. He said it shows that if everyone works together, as the city and county are currently doing, to make Carroll a better place, “it will happen.”