At 99 years old, Betty Chesley remembers well how Mankato’s skateboard park came to be.
She was wintering with her husband, George, in Encinitas, Calif., when she saw some kids boarding at a park.
“I thought, that would be wonderful to have for the kids of Mankato,” she said.
And so she and her husband, now deceased, made the first big financial contribution to create what has now become a Mankato institution: The YMCA Chesley Roller Sport Park.
And her rationale for providing financial support today, as it was 15 years ago, is the same.
“To keep at least one kid off the streets,” she said Friday.
YMCA CEO John Kind said Chesley’s wish of helping one kid has long since been accomplished.
“She keeps dozens of kids off the streets,” he said.
The YMCA announced recently that the Chesley family is again making a major contribution to keep the park running.
In addition to a $100,000 gift from Betty to maintain the park, the family has told Kind it plans to give $35,000 annually for the next 10 years.
Betty’s gift is helping the skate park’s recent sprucing up, which includes a renovation of its outdoor ramps and jumps. And the family gift will help the Y transform the park into a recreation area that offers more than just skateboarding.
Kind said the Y’s plans are to add even more to the skate structure and include more amenities, such as sand volleyball and basketball courts and a picnic area.
Today, work continues on the new outdoor space, but Kind says it should be ready soon for the dozens of kids who on a daily basis make the skate park a popular hangout for teens.
All of it, Kind says, is an homage to Betty’s work and a hallmark of her generosity.
“I love Betty’s attitude,” Kind said. “And we’re very thankful for Betty’s support.”