Fundraising efforts in memory of a boy killed in a traffic crash in 2012 led to creation of a park and playground installed last year in Eleva.
Proceeds from Zayvier’s Chicken Chase on June 3 during the Eleva Broiler Festival will now go toward expansion of a trail at Eleva Lake Park.
“After the accident, the communities of Eleva and Strum and the surrounding areas were extremely supportive of us,” said Jodi Barnes, mother of Zayvier Barnes, 9, who died as a result of the two-vehicle crash. “In addition to remember Zayvier, the playground and now the trail expansion, is something that we can do to help better the community of Eleva, where I grew up.
“We had great sponsorship and great community involvement to get the playground completed,” she added. “We are hoping to have a one-mile walking and bike trail around Eleva Lake Park, with memorial benches along the way. I think it would be something very nice for the community.”
About $60,000 raised and a $15,000 grant was used to complete the playground. Expanding the trail is estimated at $50,000.
“Zayvier was really into science, so we are hoping to put in a few science stations along the path too,” said Barnes, 42, of Eau Claire.
The path includes bridges and a path through a wooded area. Exact details of the expansion project have not been finalized.
Path improvements have been discussed with the Eleva Village Board, but no action has been taken. The property involved is owned by the village, Broiler Festival and privately.
Brett Semingson, president of the three-day Broiler Festival, said Tuesday that “there is verbal approval” with the private property owner to use it with an easement for the 1.1-mile trail.
Semingson said the path would create a safe area for recreationalists, especially for those who now might use village streets.
“It also has the aesthetics of walking in a field with woods and is a lot more appealing,” he said. “We expect it to get a lot of use.”
The trail, which would take three and possibly four years to complete, needs state Department of Natural Resources waterway permit approval because one and possibly two bridges would need to be added.
Barnes said she and her parents, Mike and Linda Wenaas of Eleva, were “trying to come up with something we could do to help the communities and try to give back for all we were given in a time of need.”
The family worked with organizers of the Chicken Chase to send proceeds to the playground effort and now the trail project.
“You can’t say enough about the sponsors, volunteers, participants and others who contribute to help with all this,” Barnes said.
“It’s a lot of work, but the morning of the race, to see the number of participants and volunteers, and to remember Zayvier. It’s very humbling,” she said.
“I and my family can never repay the help and support we got at a very difficult time,” Barnes said. “To be able to give back to help a community is very rewarding. We can never say thank you enough to them.”
Barnes says Zayvier was a “giving, loving and accepting child,” adding that she wants to send a message “that even with the horrible tragedy of losing Zayvier, some positive has come out of it. My family tries to live each day how he lived in accepting others unconditionally. I hope to keep his spirit shining for years to come.”
Zayvier Barnes was killed when a car crossed the Highway 93 centerline north of Eleva on a snowy day in November 2012 and hit a car driven by Zayvier’s father, Graham Barnes of Eau Claire. Two other Barnes children, Elysa and Qwynn, now 12 and 7, respectively, were injured.
Civil lawsuits in Eau Claire County Court against an insurance company filed by Jodi Barnes were recently settled.
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