Friends and family members of Brandon Koch, who recently passed away due to adrenocortical cancer at the age of 26, attended last Wednesday evening’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting to request the commission to consider the renaming of the skate park to Brandon Koch Memorial Park in his honor.
The family started an online petition, which so far has reached 528 signatures, with much support from fellow community members in an effort to see the park renamed.
Skateboarding was a passion of Brandon’s, and while he enjoyed skating at the park, he also enjoyed helping younger skate boarders by offering advice and practice. Many friends and family refer to the skate park as Brandon’s “home-away-from-home”.
“He never gave up,” explained an emotional Judy Suliman, Brandon’s aunt, to the Commission. “He just tried to keep everybody else in good spirits. That’s how he was.”
Mark Ellis, a neighbor of Brandon, brought along his son Andrew Ellis and told the commission why he believed the skate park should be renamed after him.
“When we first moved here, we didn’t feel safe,” stated Ellis, in reference to the area located by the skate park on Starr Ave. “Brandon would take Andrew down there [the skate park] and just work with him. Here’s a 26 year old dude, hanging out with an 11 year old boy, at first it doesn’t seem natural,” explained Ellis. “But with Brandon, and something about the quality of guy that Brandon was, it was completely natural.”
George Fagundes, Brandon’s roommate and best friend, told the commission that they’re trying to sell the fact that the skate park is a community gathering place, rather than just a place to skate.
“That skate park wasn’t just a place to skateboard, but a place to share deep life changing stories and moments in our lives, to gather our thoughts,” stated Fagundes.
“That park already seems a little emptier just knowing that we won’t be skating there, but if there’s one way we could get him to skate there again is to have him skate on in memory. We all owe it to him, and I would like to see this through.”
Commission members sent their condolences to the family and listened intently to their request, and told those in attendance that Allison Van Guilder, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, would be working with them to get the item on the agenda for future consideration.
A benefit concert will be held on May 18 at the Grizzly Rock Café located at 4905 N. Golden State Boulevard. Vinyl stickers with a picture of a skateboard and purple ribbon will also be available in honor of Koch and will be handed out for a $1 donation towards the cost of renaming the park.