Inauguration day at the new Phillips Memorial Court

The Michaela Morgan and Thomas Deckard-Madore Memorial Basketball Court prior to the dedication ceremony (Paula Kane photo)

PHILLIPS – The Michaela Morgan and Thomas Deckard-Madore Memorial Basketball Court is now officially open for operations. The brand new court, built to honor the lives of these two young people who were killed in a car accident last winter, recently officially opened with a special housewarming ceremony in North Franklin Park.

“There were lots of new basketballs to shoot and lots of hope and healing as we dedicated this space to our children, the community and our lost loved ones Michaela and Thomas,” said Brenda Wilcox, one of the many volunteers and contributors to this community project.

Sherra Osgood addressed those present with the following words:

“The definitions of community:” A group of people who live in the same place or have some common characteristic, especially one who practices common property; a sense of community with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals; 3) Co-Ownership and Liability.

“We gathered today to celebrate the completion of the M&T Memorial Court.

“Has the term ‘love work’ ever had more meaning than in this dish? When one of us suffers an unimaginable loss, we all feel it in our communities.

“In March 2021, a group of us decided to channel our grief and do something ‘good’ for our youth. The tragedy-crowned COVID year had really made a difference for many of us. We just knew that Michaela and Thomas loved basketball, that our community was grieving, and that we needed to do something positive. We’ll honor them with a basketball court.

“What? Really? How? OMG, can we do this?

“With a community like ours, yes you can. We learned that our community has it all. We have entrepreneurs, construction experts, planners, people who can bake, people who manage money, people who organize events, people who know other people, and so on and so on. People gave their time, money, equipment, supplies, or a piece of anything they could give. It was amazing to see this outpouring of love, work and generosity. Without you, this dish would not be possible.

“Many of us standing on this square had the opportunity to be part of a sports team. We know how sport taught us life lessons that we apply to our adult lives today. We can also understand how sport kept us out of trouble when we were young! We hope this space will be a place for kids to hone their skills, friends to gather around to laugh and share stories, and adults to revive the former athlete in them.

“With that I would like to say Thomas and Michaela… Their unhappy deaths inspired us to do better, to be more connected, to recognize the strengths in one another and to find ‘the happy’ when it seemed impossible. For these reasons, we dedicate this dish to you and your like-minded people of happiness and positivity. May you live on with every swing of a three-pointer or perfectly executed foul.

“I just have one last request for you … if you could pull a few strings with the big guy upstairs for another gold ball, we’d be happy too!”

Thank you once again for the many hands and financial support that have filled this court with life and will ensure that the so tragically lost young people live on in their community.

Michaela Morgan and Thomas Deckard-Madore, two students at Mt. Abram Regional High School in Salem, were involved in a fatal car accident when they returned home from a trip in Rangeley in February. In mid-March, a group of locals gathered to discuss the possibility of doing something to honor the lost young lives. Both students were athletes who excelled in basketball. The solution seemed obvious.

The group started a fundraising campaign that made it possible to build this “large, beautiful memorial basketball park”. The group initially organized an online bakery sale via a Facebook page to raise interest and support. Monetary donations from many organizations, private companies, individuals, student councils and others were included. Generous people from all over the area offered their help wherever they could.

Work on the square began in the spring of last year. The groundbreaking ceremony was done by a local who did not want recognition for his generosity. Soon more local contractors and individuals were offering their help, including EL Vining and Sons, Pikes, and King’s Paving, Elliot’s. Many other people also helped.

The new basketball court has the standard variable. It is well equipped and has first-class basketball poles, back panels and nets as well as two shorter poles for the younger players.

A new shield was installed. Regular line painters added the official lines in the square. Kiana Thompson, local artist and designer of the Michaela Morgan / Thomas Deckard-Madore logo, painted the logo in the center of the square. This logo has become a familiar sight as it appears on many t-shirts and emblems in North Franklin County / Mt. Abram High School communities.

A pavilion is planned on the square, under which families can sit to enjoy the game on the square.

Next year, the 1st M&T Memorial Hot Shot Contest is expected at the Phillips Old Home Days.

About Cindy Johnson

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