The Centralia City Council voted Tuesday to enter into a $100-a-month lease agreement to turn a concession building near the skate park at Rotary Riverside Park into a retail skate shop, in an effort to realize the dreams of a young man who suffered serious brain damage in a 2019 longboarding accident.
Before the vote, City Manager Rob Hill noted that the concession building has only been used as a storage facility since its construction, though the original plans for the building included a retail skate shop.
Braden Allee, 21, the man who was injured in the accident as a boy, had opened an online skate shop called Kraken Boardshop before his accident, but due to the injuries he endured, he can no longer run the business on his own.
So his parents, James and Bonnie Allee, have taken up the torch of the journey their son started in his stead. They will run the business, but they want to employ Braden to give him purpose and direction, they said.
“We really want Braden to be a productive member of society, and be able to be his own business owner because that’s really what he wanted,” James Allee said. “So we’re trying to help him get there. And we have a lot of support and help in the community.”
James Allee asked those in attendance at the meeting who were there to support Braden to raise their hands. In an instant, nearly all the folks in the council chambers, which had been filled to capacity, raised their hands in a show of solidarity for the man who had endured so much.
In May 2019, Braden’s longboarding accident resulted in an airlift from Providence Centralia Hospital to Providence St. Peter Hospital for a craniectomy.
After the surgery, a doctor told his parents that Braden had a 10% chance of surviving, according to an email sent by James Allee to the city.
“Braden was in a medically induced coma for 13 days,” James Allee wrote. “When he came out of the coma, there was no way of knowing how bad his brain had been affected.”
Allee added later: “His brain that controls the right side of his body was affected, so he has a hard time getting his right side moving like it used to. His speech has been affected as well. Sometimes he has a slight stutter as he tries to find the right words to say.”
Braden collects disability payments due to the injuries he has suffered and their debilitating effects.
During the meeting, Bonnie Allee explained the challenges Braden has already overcome and lamented that Braden’s accident occurred a little over a month before his high school graduation.
“He had to learn how to walk, talk, eat — the whole thing,” she said. “We are coming up on three years in May, so it’s been a long journey for us. … As his parents, we are trying to help him become more independent, not rely on the city or the state or anybody else other than himself. So we’ve kind of taken over the Kraken Boardshop and we want to bring his dream to life and bring it to a brick and mortar.”
In addition to the $100 rent, the Allees will need to pay the leasehold tax and electricity charges for the business as well as assist in the maintenance, repair and general upkeep of the skate park.
In a comment on the measure, Councilor Elizabeth Cameron glowed with pride in the endeavor.
“I’d just like to say how proud I am of all of you,” Cameron said. “I have been in that facility. I’ve been up and downstairs. I’ve been through the skate park, and I just think it’s an absolutely fabulous thing to do for yourselves and the healing process and for the community.”
Councilor Max Vogt turned his admiration on Braden himself.
“I’d like to thank (Braden) for being the inspiration for this. Good job,” Vogt said.
When the vote turned out to be unanimous, the gathered crowd burst into raucous applause and cheers.
The excitement must have been infectious because Mayor Kelly Smith Johnston then said, “Well council, that’s the fun stuff isn’t it? That was great. Thank you to everyone involved in this project.”