Skatepark of Ruston hopes to meet fundraising goal by May 2022

By William Midkiff

Due to various delays, such as the devastating 2019 tornado, Hurricane Laura in 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, construction on the Skatepark of Ruston was pushed back as far as necessary. Fundraising is still going strong, however, and director Joey Slaughter believes that funding should meet its first major goal by its due date—May of 2022.

“The city has told us that if we get $100,000 – our goal by May —that the park would start in the fall,” he said.

This project began in 2016, with hand-drawn skatepark ideas by skaters in the Ruston area. These drawings were combined into one plan, then rendered in 3D by Hunger Skateparks to serve as an official concept, and the project was on its way to becoming a reality.

The Skatepark of Ruston was then put on hold due to the aforementioned delays, but in the fall of 2020, Slaughter revived it with an online petition. The petition gained 2,500 signatures, which garnered the attention of Ruston Parks and Recreation.

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker has been working with Slaughter and his team ever since, and the state recently updated their agreement to provide funding by pledging $125,000 to the construction of the skatepark. Slaughter’s team is working to raise $100,000 on their own. They are currently at $40,000.

So far, the money has come directly from passionate people in the community.

“We put together a corporate fundraising packet about 5 months ago, and so we’ve gone to local businesses and asked people, and we’ve done fundraisers, and all kinds of stuff,” Slaughter said. “And that’s how we made that $40,000. It’s just local people pitching in because they believe in the project.”

Troy Ketchum, owner of Rock Island Physical Therapy in Ruston and personal friend of Slaughter, said this skatepark gives Ruston children another way to express themselves athletically. This is why Ketchum decided to sponsor the Skatepark of Ruston through his physical therapy business.

“I see the alternative sports as filling a real need in the area for a different kind of creative outlet for youth and for athletic development and competition that aren’t served by traditional sports,” Ketchum said.

Slaughter and his team are also seeking funds through potential grants and through an upcoming board fundraiser inspired by Project Loop, a community organization that was able to raise money for a skatepark in Taylor, Texas, by auctioning off custom skateboards designed by well-known artists. Slaughter is planning a similar auction for May 2022.

“We hope to raise $30,000,” Slaughter said. “It’ll be an online auction, and we’ll have other art and music and stuff going on with that.” 

He said it’s expected that 150-200 artists and musicians will participate.

Helping Slaughter with all of this is an entire board of people, including Kacey Richard, secretary and media manager. Richard is responsible for releasing information about the project, which is especially important for raising awareness and money.

The official Instagram page for the Skatepark of Ruston (@skateparkofruston) has been running multiple marketing campaigns to generate hype for the project, all of which are scheduled and posted by Richard.

“Right now we’re in the fundraising stage, so we’re selling merch, like t-shirts, hoodies, stickers, and various raffle items,” Richard said. “So I make sure I have pictures and graphics and campaign pushes scheduled for all of our fundraising and promotional items.”

In recent years, social media has become one of the most effective methods of advertising, so for a project like this one, a relevant and up-to-date Instagram page is a vital aspect of marketing.

“Our social media presence has really been the key in how quickly our interest has grown,” Richard said. 

Anyone interested in learning more about the Skatepark of Ruston can visit the project’s website at https://www.skateparkofruston.com.


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