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Mount Shasta community raises money to dedicate plaza for dying local leader

Published On: Jun 10 2013 08:32:54 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 11 2013 05:47:01 PM CDT

More than 30 years ago, Dr. Jim Parker called newsrooms from Mount Shasta to get the word out about a race he was starting.

It was the Fourth of July Fun Run and Walk, an event that would raise money for the Mount Shasta community and garner more than 100,000 entries over the years.

Now, Parker is dying. And this weekend, the community wanted to let him know how much he means to them.

Everyone from business owners to Buddhist monks gathered in Downtown Mount Shasta to dedicate "Parker Plaza," in honor of Dr. Parker, who has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Only six months ago, Parker's family started to raise money to create the downtown plaza.

"Now that my dad's life and career are coming to an end, I think that instead of this plaza commemorating a lifetime of achievements, he would want it to serve as a constant source on inspiration, letting us know that no idea is too large, and that if making a difference is your vision, you will make it happen," said Parker's son, Nathan Parker.

Jim Parker said the plaza is important to future generations.

"I can see my great-grandchild coming through town and ask, 'What's that about?' And they will tell the story of a running doc, at the turn of the century, who woke up every day and said it did matter that I was born," Parker said. "And I think, I think it did matter."

Nadine Aiello helped design the plaza. She said that in six months, $49,000 of the $65,000 project had been raised, mostly in $10 to $25 donations.

Over the years, money from the Fun Run and Walk that Parker started went toward beautification projects including the downtown trees, sidewalks, a clock and more.