On April 12, 2012, skateboard enthusiast and Turlock resident Brandon Koch lost his battle with adrenocortical cancer at the age of 26.
And on April 12, 2013, friends, family and community members gathered at the newly-renamed Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park to honor Koch’s legacy.
“Sometimes I wonder why he died so young,” said Brandon’s mother Jean Koch at the ceremony. “But God takes the good ones first. If you were in a field of flowers, would you take the ugly or the beautiful one? He picked the beautiful one.”
In his years spent at the skate park, Brandon Koch would help young children learn how to skateboard. More than that, he would protect everyone who was at the park, stopping bullying and stepping in when older kids would attempt to steal younger children’s skateboards. Koch was considered not only a leader at the skate park, but a friend to all that spent time there.
“One year ago, we all lost an amazing man,” said Brandon’s sister Nicole Koch. “Whether he was our son, our brother, or our friend, we miss him all the same.”
After Brandon Koch’s passing, friends and family members joined Koch’s aunt Judith Sulliman in support of renaming the park the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park. Collecting more than 1,000 signatures, Sulliman and supporters of the petition addressed the Turlock City Council to seek approval for the renaming.
Upon hearing of Koch’s legacy from numerous community members, the council unanimously agreed to rename the park in honor of Koch. After months of fundraising, friends and family of Koch raised enough to purchase a new “Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park” sign that was unveiled to the community on Friday.
Sulliman addressed the group of people who joined to honor Koch, and thanked Mayor John Lazar, the Turlock City Council, and city staff within the Parks and Recreation Department for their help in continuing Koch's legacy of “paying it forward” to the community.
“We all know that Brandon wanted to pay it forward to his friends and his community,” said Sulliman. “In words that I know Brandon said to many of you…Do good.”
The new sign was made by Brandon’s close friend Kameron Schumann, and features a specially designed metal skateboard that describes Brandon’s legacy. A large granite monument was also placed at the park that displays a cancer ribbon next to the words “Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park.” The monument was also made possible by donations from Boulders Unlimited and the Gateway Memorial Art in Turlock.
“We got it done,” said a teary-eyed, smiling Sulliman.
After Sulliman finished addressing the audience, Koch's longtime friend Zachary Wagner turned to everyone and loudly proclaimed, “Let’s skate!”
Wearing t-shirts featuring a picture of Brandon, friends and fellow skateboard enthusiasts joined together to skate in honor of his legacy.
The Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park is located at 250 Starr Ave. in Turlock.