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Fundraising for park to remember Niceville boy reaches increased goal

Jim Thompson
jthompson@nwfdailynews.com
Northwest Florida Daily News

NICEVILLE — Donations to a GoFundMe campaign to help build a children’s park to honor a 12-year-old boy who died when his bicycle was hit by a car last year have again surpassed the campaign’s stated goal, and the campaign to attract donors is continuing.

RELATED: Scout Troop 553 posthumously honors 12-year-old Abram Sitcer

The park, planned for a one-acre tract on Southwind Drive in Bluewater Bay donated by the Bluewater Bay Golf Course, will remember Abram Sitcer, who was struck by a car driven by an elderly driver at a nearby roundabout in April of last year.

RELATED: (April 2019) Bicyclist, 12, killed by 92-year-old driver in Niceville

A GoFundMe campaign set up after Abram’s death, online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/aparkforabram, passed its original $20,000 goal in January, and recently surpassed its upgraded goal of $30,000.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Remembering Abram Sitcer at Court of Honor

“We’ll continue to accept contributions as 100% of the proceeds go towards Abram’s Park and to help the community maintain it,” David Vardaman, a director of the Bluewater Bay Municipal Services Benefit Unit (MSBU) and organizer of the GoFundMe effort, announced Saturday on the GoFundMe campaign page, “A Park For Abram.”

Also according to Vardaman, the initiative remains on track to attract significant funding from the Okaloosa County government.

“Our partners at the county have their annual budget review in mid-July and the Parks Department commitment remains on track,” Vardaman wrote in a recent post on the GoFundMe campaign page.

Private fundraising remains important, though, Vardaman added, noting that the “GoFundMe effort will go a long way toward demonstrating to county officials how important this park is to the community.”

Fundraising for the park has been a grassroots effort, with donations coming from sources including a lemonade stand operated by two youngsters who contributed more than $100 to the effort, the sale of homemade COVID-19 masks made by a Bluewater Bay woman that added $1,000 to the campaign, and a Fun Run sponsored by the Run the World running club that added more than $1,000 to the total of donations.

GoFundMe donations will assist the Parks Division of the Okaloosa County Public Works Department in acquiring and installing playground equipment for the park. The fenced park is also slated to include a pavilion, a fitness station, benches and bicycle racks.

In addition to the county, the golf course and the Bluewater Bay MSBU, the Friends of Bluewater Bay, a nonprofit citizens’ group, is also working to help establish the park.

The county budget review during which funding for Abram’s Park will be considered will come one year after Abram was honored by Boy Scout Troop 553, to which he had belonged, with the Spirit of the Eagle Award.

The Spirit of the Eagle is a posthumous award recognizing contributions of Scouts who lose their lives to an untimely accident or illness.

Presenting the award to Abram’s family, Scoutmaster Fred Baldwin said the accident “took a great Scout away from us, and just a great kid in general.” Baldwin went on to say, “Our purpose tonight is not to mourn Abram, even though we all miss him very much, but rather to celebrate the golden Scouting spirit that Abram embodied.”

“He loved life,” Abram’s mother, Amanda, said at the ceremony. “He was very persistent. He was very creative. He was just a solid kid.”

Abram’s father, Kevin, said at the time that he hoped something of his son would remain with Troop 553.

“I hope they just have a lasting memory of him,” Kevin Sitcer said.