Family holds benefit to build a skate park in fire victim's honor
Sunday marks one year since a deadly Dunlap fire claimed two lives. Gavin Gardner was one of the men who died. His loved ones held a benefit to raise money for a skate park in his honor.
Known for his big bright eyes and his brightly colored mohawk, Gavin's fiance says he also had a reputation for being selfless and caring.
"He would give the shirt off his back for any one person," said Liz Johnson. "It didn't matter if he was friends with them or not."
Gavin's stepdad says the year since his death was difficult.
"We hold," said Justin Nave. "It's not been easy - but we hold. "When you cannot do anything more. You will stand. And that's what we do."
Sunday, Gavin's family held the the #BeMoreGavin balloon benefit. They sold different colored balloons for various prices. All the money will go towards the goal of building the first skate in Dunlap.
Gavin, who was 20 when he died, skated since he was a little boy and advocated for a skate park in Harris Park.
"He would work 10-12 hour days at a time and then he would come an hour drive back here to the city council meetings so he could be there as a representative for the city to let them know - he's backing it," said Johnson. "He would have people there to support it."
A development project for Harris Park funded by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will add a splash pad, but it doesn't include plans for a skate park. Gavin's family says they'll donate the money to the Dunlap City Council to build skate park.
"He wanted a safe place for kids to skate in this community," said Tracie Nave, Gavin's mom. "That was his dream. He wanted it not only for himself for the whole community. And we will not stop until we see that skate park built in honor of Gavin."
A huge crowd showed support for Gavin and his dream by ending the benefit with a balloon release.
Volunteers also sold clothing and accessories to raise money. The band 8 Track Minds provided free entertainment.
The benefit raised more than $3,900 Sunday.
According to the TBI, the other man who died in the fire that killed Gavin was was 22-year-old Christopher Logan Thornton. Two dogs also died.