A year after organizing, Game Plan 4 Hope is expanding and needs community help to reach its goal.
Donations of money, materials and construction expertise are sought to make “Team-E Fieldhouse of Hope” a reality.
Organizers kicked off the efforts on Jan 1, including Jeff and Missy Bass, and Aaron and Heather Erickson.
“We figured the start of the year would be good as people always look for what charities they want to support,” Missy said.
“We realize it’s probably too late to get the end-of-year donors, so we will start fresh with 2021.”
A goal of $135,000 will establish an office, workshop, meeting room, storage and public fitness center in the former New Vision Co-op on East Third Street.
The Fieldhouse is named after Ethan Erickson, 12, who lost an 18-month battle with Burkitt's Lymphoma/Leukemia on Oct. 13, 2019.
Supporters of 12-year-Erickson became known as “Team E” in the Hills area.
Ethan’s parents, Aaron and Heather Erickson, said they’re honored by the lasting tribute to their son.
“This is such an amazing way to remember Ethan and honor his fighting spirit, his selflessness and his willingness to help others,” Heather said.
“This building embodies all the characteristics that Ethan possessed, and we are so happy to remember him by making a difference in the lives of others.”
Interior demolition started over the Christmas and New Year holiday break when same Hills-Beaver Creek High School athletes started cleaning and removing walls.
Remodeling the former Hills co-op building is expected to take four months with a completion date of April 1 established.
Pledge cards for donations of money, materials and/or time are on the group’s website, Gameplan4hope.org.
The Bass and Erickson families said they organized the non-profit to return kindnesses they received shortly after the life-changing events and the information shared toward their journey to a new normal life.
Trenton Bass, son of Missy and Jeff Bass, played football for H-BC, and a defense tackle on Sept. 8, 2017, left the then H-BC senior a quadriplegic.
Trenton is currently a junior at South Dakota State University in Brookings, majoring in mechanical engineering.
He is also actively involved in Game Plan 4 Hope’s outreach to families.
“He talks to the injured patients that are in a similar situation as him, and that means a lot to them,” Missy said.
In its first season in 2019-20, Game Plan 4 Hope touched 27 families in five states. They delivered 21 bags of hope, gave out more than $16,000 in gift cards and equipment, and gifted 18 Christmas packages. The group was assisted by 22 volunteers.
The Team-E Fieldhouse of Hope will bring all aspects of the organization under one roof and expand service to families.
Fieldhouse includes community fitness center
The building for Team-E Fieldhouse of Hope is 60-by 125 feet with a 22-by-38-foot wheelchair-accessible fitness center.
“We thought the health of the community and tying it in with the sports theme we have for Game Plan 4 Hope would be a fun way to promote fitness and also honor Ethan’s memory by naming the building after him,” Missy said.
In addition to the fitness room, the Fieldhouse will include:
•a central place for the donated medical equipment, which has been stored in personal garages over the past three years.
•a display room and a fitting room for families seeking specialized equipment.
•a place for small group gatherings to accommodate speaking engagements and learning opportunities.
•an office for Game Plan 4 Hope.
•a garage for a handicap-accessible van for affected families.
•an area for volunteers to assemble packages.
“We are very excited about this new building and how it will enable our organization to better serve our ‘Game Plan’ families and give back to our community at the same time,” Heather said.