After the devastating loss of their eldest child, 14 year-old Derek, Chong and Marie Park wanted to find tangible ways to honor and remember their dear son. We first met Chong in their neighborhood at Norwood Park. The family wanted to install a Tribute Bench near a tree just outside the building where all their children attended pre-school. Working with the Park Manager, a beautiful bench was installed with a fitting plaque honoring Derek and highlighting a quote from one of his class assignments, “It is important to keep each thing with us, to remember it as history, and to learn from it -Derek Park (1997-2011)”
The Park family has appreciated how friends, neighbors and strangers regularly use the bench as a place of solace and rest. We later heard from Marie who shared with us that the tae kwon do studio, The Flying Kick Fitness Center, was holding a kick-a-thon fundraiser in Derek’s memory. She thought they would raise a few hundred dollars- they raised thousands, all donated to the Montgomery Parks Foundation in Derek’s name. Soon enough Marie was thinking about other ways to improve the beautiful parks of Montgomery County which had been enjoyed by Derek, an outdoor enthusiast. In the fall a sign will be unveiled on the newly improved Meadowbrook Local Park Soccer Field # 8, as it will now be called- Derek Park Memorial Field.