Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Sk8ter Boy

Every so many years, Austin's birthday falls on the same day as Father's Day, and I have to share the limelight with him.

But I don't like to share so when this has happened in the past, I simply concocted a guilt trip about how he should honor me as his father and sacrifice his dream of having a special day all to himself. And then I remind him how I'm bigger than he is and that I can totally take him.

However, something has changed that has completely screwed that up. After this last year, I don't stand a snowman's chance in hell of stealing any limelight from this kid any more.

And why is that you ask? Well, for those of you who don't know, please allow me to explain.

Only one year ago at our city's 4th of July celebration, Austin saw our mayor preparing to give a speech and decided to "go for it" and mention his idea for a dream he had - to build a skate plaza in St. Cloud. What happened after that is like some far-fetched kind of movie plot, so seemingly implausible that if someone had suggested to you what was going to happen to him the following year, you would have laughed in their face.

To illustrate this clearer, here's a summary of events that have taken place over the last 11 1/2 months.

July 4, 2006 - Austin meets the mayor and tells him his idea

August 2006 - Austin is appointed to the St. Cloud Park and Recreation Board

October 2006 - Following a media blitz by area newspapers and all 3 local network affiliates, ABC News picks up the story and features Austin as the Person of the Week.

March 2007 - After several months of planning, fundraising events and more media coverage, Austin and the Mayor are featured guests on this very cool national podcast by The Gen Y Project.

May 2007 - The preliminary designs of the skate plaza are complete and local architects have created this animated flyover.

June 2007 - As retiring Park and Rec board members end their 3-year terms, new vacancies are opened up for board Chair and Vice-Chair. After electing a new board Chair, Austin is nominated and unanimously elected as the new Vice-Chair of the St. Cloud Park and Recreation Board.

Next -
All details of this project including full media clips, newspaper articles and designs can be found at for anyone who wants to learn more. As well, you can click the "Skatepark" tag at the bottom to read all the other stories I've written about this wacky adventure. As for the next steps, Austin and the fundraising committee are busy planning more events and knocking on doors, and things are going very well. In fact, the mayor has already indicated that he hopes to break ground on the new plaza next summer.

And that only partially sums up Austin's year as a 14 year-old. Not a bad year's work - IF YOU'RE 50! Hmm, let's see - what did I accomplish when I was 14. Oh yeah, nothing.

So happy birthday bud. Keeping track of everything you've got going on is making me dizzy, but I hope I'm letting you know enough how proud I am of you and how much I love you. Because I am VERY proud, and I love you VERY much.

And I hope you have a fantastic 15th birthday and that you have a blast next week at skateboard camp.

But as for our shared birthday/Father's Day? You go ahead and keep the limelight, you deserve it. And all I want for a gift is for you to think that I had something to do with how you turned out.


Jennine said...

Happy Birthday, Austin! You're an amazing young man which comes as no surprise.

Speaking of that...Happy Father's Day, Jeff. You make being a dad seem...well, almost hip and cool!

Elizabeth said...

Hope you have a great birthday Austin!

Dave2 said...

Uhhhh... yeah... at fourteen I think my biggest accomplishment to date was becoming potty-trained. It's kind of been downhill from there.

Anonymous said...

Very impressive indeed. Happy birthday Austin.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday sweet son! The rest of the world got to see your wonderful side for the last year, I got to see if for the last 15 years. Since the day I first laid eyes on you 15 years ago I knew you were something special.
Happy Birthday with love,

yoo hoo said...

It is to hard to type with tears in my eyes. What a great tribute! Take some Dad day credit too, he wouldn't be here with out you.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Austin. And again--congratulations on being elected vice-chairman. I'm thinking our one claim to fame is being your grandparents!!! Oh--and a happy Father's Day to a wonderful son and father!!! You do help make the world a better place. Love you so very much!!

Anonymous said...

You know Austin, evertime you get older, I get older. Happy birthday. and keep on the right track!

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

bill - Hey, did you notice? Austin's even stealing your limelight too. Instead of writing a post about how awesome you are as a dad, I had to write about him instead. Now you may never know how I feel. Oh well, you'll just have to wonder I guess. ;-)

Anyway, happy Father's Day dad - I hope you have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Happy happy birthday Austin! You are doing history changing things-amazing! We are so proud of you. You've always been such a nice guy. Hope all your bithday dreams come true, which I'm sure they will! Love, Aunt Cindy and Uncle Don

Mom Thumb said...

Hubby's birthday comes on Mother's Day occasionally, and I don't like that, either. Happy Father's Day to a great Dad!

Austin, only one more year until you can drive! I have a feeling you'll still be getting around on that skateboard, though. Happy Birthday!

Sandy said...

Man, at 15 I was like doing...umm...nothing. What an accomplishment!

Hope you both enjoy your special day!

Anonymous said...

You gotta love SketchUp! Looks like someone either had the registered version or did it in the free version and then used the 2 hours of rendering time in the demo of the real version. My SketchUp models are still kinda simple...SketchUp Models

Happy Birthday Austin and Happy Father's Day Harmonca Mazan!

Anonymous said...

wow...I have no words! that mayor was pretty cool to listen and take him serious and look how it has went. kudos and bravo, most kids are just out getting stoned and look at him!

but Momma said...

The animation of the park is Amazing! Nice work Austin and a Very Happy Birthday!

A little credit is definitely not too much to ask, Jeff. Hope you guys had a great Father's/Birthday Weekend!

deborah said...

Wow, Happy Birthday, Austin! you really are an imaginitive and amazing young man. Good for you to follow your dreams into reality.

Jeff, You must be setting a good example for him. Happy belated Father's Day!