By Sarah Peterson
Ask a Spokanite what “getting outside” means to them, and you’ll get a wide range of answers: Going on hike to see the first buttercups of spring. Taking the dog for a walk after dinner. Riding a Lime Scooter at Riverfront Park. Letting the kids run and climb at a playground.
A common thread in these activities is that they all can happen at, and because of, the Spokane County parks system and its 100-plus parks. Our parks are places we can enjoy Spokane’s beautiful natural environment, even if our preferred forms of outdoor play are very different.
It was an appreciation of this diversity and commonality that led Gene Fitzpatrick, president of Spokane City Credit Union, to invent The Great Spokane Parks Challenge. In the challenge, participants pledge to visit 24 Spokane parks in celebration of the Spokane Parks Foundation’s 70th birthday.
The challenge is free and open to all, and Fitzpatrick hopes that participants will explore and appreciate Spokane parks, or even find a new park they didn’t know existed.
For the first 70 people who complete the challenge, SCCU offers the prize of a day pack and a donation of $150 to the Spokane Parks Foundation, with the goal of $10,500 total donations. They will also donate $50 for the first 70 people who complete half the challenge, visiting 12 parks.
Spokane Parks Foundation, which supports parks and related activities throughout Spokane County and its municipalities, is thrilled with the collaboration. Executive Director Terri Fortner’s wish for the Great Spokane Parks Challenge is that it will encourage people to renew their connection to Spokane parks.
“So many people have a favorite park, or special memories of parks they have visited,” she says. “And I hope the challenge creates an additional sense of ownership, a reminder that all the parks you might visit are our parks, our public lands.”
SCCU has a longstanding relationship with Spokane Parks Foundation, one of its preferred community charities. The credit union has devised creative, community-focused programs like the Great Spokane Parks Challenge to make giving back to the community a regular part of how they do business.
The Great Spokane Parks Challenge is running now, and SCCU invites everyone to join. (You don’t have to bank at the credit union to participate.) Completing the challenge requires a visit to 24 parks, and the submission of a selfie or location photo at sccu.net to document the visit. As of press time for this article, 163 people were signed up, and 17 people had already finished!
Julia Rowe, one of the earliest finishers, is particularly enthusiastic. She, her sister, and her friend visited 24 parks by March, and they are now on a mission to visit all 102 parks before the challenge ends on October 7, 2022. As a transplant to Spokane, she finds the challenge is helping her get to know the city better. She has particularly enjoyed discovering curiosities like Browns Park’s surfboard-themed climbing wall. But, she says, “The best part is the donation, of course. The more you see all the different parks, the more you understand it’s important to support them.”
During the pandemic, parks became a haven like never before, letting friends and families gather while feeling safer outside. Now, as spring arrives, and we hope for a change of seasons on many fronts, it’s the perfect time for community members to rekindle a special relationship with Spokane parks for all the different ways that we enjoy the outdoors.
If you are interested in joining the Great Spokane Parks Challenge to benefit the Spokane Parks Foundation, go to sccu.net/parks-challenge/ to learn more and sign up.
Find stories about Spokane parks in the OTO archives.