In early 2014, local cyclists and community volunteers Gene and Dona Griffin met with Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent, Kara Kish, to discuss the possibility of building a memorial bike park in the Fowler Park Wilderness Area. Their goal was to create a park that would provide opportunities for healthy active recreational lifestyles while simultaneously honoring their son, Sgt. Dale R. Griffin, who gave his life on October 27, 2009 during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sgt. Griffin’s father, Gene, says that his son’s choice to fight to preserve our freedom changed the course for their family, their friends and their community. “We chose to follow his example,” he said. “Why not build a bike park as a memorial to remember Dale and all those who have been killed serving from Vigo County? It seemed a fitting way to turn our tragedy into a treasure.”
Thus, the Griffin Bike Park was founded to honor the memories of the service men and women who have served and who gave their lives to protect the core values of Freedom, Family, Friendship and Community. In celebration of these values, the 300-acre park will provide riders from all backgrounds, ages, skills and abilities with a wide range of exciting riding opportunities. “As the first active recreational park in our 2,700 acre system, citizens of Vigo County and visitors from across the region, county, and world will be able to experience this 300-acre, world-class facility which will be located right here in Vigo County,” said Kara Kish. “The Griffin Bike Park will be an invaluable addition to the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department and will serve the community by increasing recreational opportunities, improving health and wellness and through a projected $2 million dollar economic impact for Vigo County.”
In addition to the park, a “Fallen Soldiers Memorial” will be constructed to remember and honor all those from Vigo County who have been killed in foreign wars since 1816. The Memorial, which will be located near the entrance of the park, will include a memorial wall, flag pole and garden designed to celebrate the core values on which the park was established. Thanks to the Hulman George Family Endowment Fund, the Delmar L. and Betty L. Jones Family Fund and the Felstein Grandchildren Fund in Memory of Allen & Millie Felstein, the Community Foundation was able to award a $15,000 grant through its unrestricted grant process to assist with the construction of the park.