The Wings of Hope nonprofit organization serving the North End of the community is in the middle of working on a redevelopment of Bannon Park and has been finding allies all over, including North End native Chef Will Robinson, who is in the middle of a funding campaign of his own to raise money for the park.
Robinson said there are many efforts to raise money for the park, but he is also doing his part to raise funding the best way he knows how— by using his passion for food and hot sauce.
Thump Hot Sauce is a product of Amity and Beach and a partner investor in Robinson’s efforts to create his own sauces in Ohio. He is using this partnership to raise funding for the next generation of children to utilize Bannon Park.
“My brother and I started Thump Ohio, which is an extension of the national brand that we’re just focusing on Ohio. We’re selling our regular sauce lineup, but we’re also trying to generate extra funding for the park by selling two of our sauces,” Robinson said. “I’m lucky to have the investors that I have and the ability to do a project like this and reach out into the community in such a positive way.”
The Wings of Hope website explain their venture as, “We envision a healthy and vibrant park where everyone is able to be active, explore, learn, play and connect, while improving quality of life by promoting physical activity, a safe and welcoming public space, positive community interactions, and relief from everyday stress. We will provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community; along with making the park inclusive, welcoming and accessible to all.”
The park will be inclusive and handicap accessible, feature many new playground elements, and more. Two of his sauces are being sold to raise funding for these new features.
“I created two wing sauces, which include a buffalo sauce and honey mustard sauce,” Robinson said. “The sauces are specifically for the Wings of Hope, which is run by Maxine Malone and a couple other board members, to build their handicap accessible park in the Bannon Park area. A dollar of every bottle goes to that development, so kids of every ability can play.”
According to the Wings of Hope website, the sauce has raised $1,000.00 to date. This is part of $218,412.50 currently raised through support from County and City dollars, as well as private donors. Their goal is $700,000.
Robinson claimed that it was touching that the park plans included this accessibility, because his own son, Brylin, is confined to a wheelchair and has limitations.
“My son has always been part of the outreach community and was never really able to do things other kids could, because he is confined to a wheelchair,” Robinson explained. “They came to me after making the blueprints for the park and all of that and I wanted to do my part to help.”
Robinson said that he was also drawn to help with the efforts, because of his personal connection to Maxine Malone.
“Maxine Malone in particular has always invested in my life since I was a child,” Robinson recalled. “She kept me off the streets, let me perform in her plays, and always gave me an option that wasn’t really available to the kids of the North End. She really was like a mother to all of us. She taught me how to live my life in service. In turn, I want to return the grace.”
Malone shares that same pride for Robinson as he has for her.
“Play is the key to children’s physical, mental, intellectual, and social well-being. It impacts hugely on almost every developmental aspect of children’s lives holistically and in multifaceted ways. The youth in the African American neighborhood have always had very limited playground activity because it has not been available, and they don’t have the resources to travel to other parks,” Malone said. “Will’s son was born with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and has never been able to play on a playground. Will’s contribution to the funding of Bannon Park through Thump Sauce is integral to upgrading Bannon Park for use with children and adults of all abilities. I truly believe that Will’s contribution to Bannon Park will help us leave a legacy for our children to build upon from generation to generation. A park that is inclusive to all abilities.”
The sauce can be purchsed at www.etsy.com/shop/amityandbeach/?etsrc=sdt.
Information on Bannon Park can be found at www.mywingsofhope.org/bannonpark/
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved