NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. (WHTM) — The memory of New Cumberland teen Medard Kowalski will live on through youth programs set to begin next month.
Organizers of the Medard’s House organization announced on Thursday that they will begin offering programs for teens at the West Shore Senior Center. In a kickoff event on Oct. 21, both the Cedar Cliff and Red Land High School football teams will gather at the center for a meal. The show of unity in Medard’s honor will happen prior to the rival teams battling each other later that evening at West Shore Stadium.
“Medard was an exceptional young man who was an exceptional athlete,” said Angela Fickes-Mountz, a Medard’s House organizer, “but he didn’t just stick with the athletes. He was a friend to everyone, and he encouraged that from his friends. You’ll see that there are other kids that carry on that mantle.”
Fickes-Mountz says the goal of Medard’s House is to continue in the spirit of unconditional and untraditional friendships that Medard forged over the years during frequent youth gatherings at a home in Camp Hill. Most of those gatherings were at the home of Saundra Colello, who is also deeply involved in the Medard’s House organization.
While the programs, which will include meals and games, will begin with three days a week at the senior center, the ultimate goal is much larger. Colello says the group has reached out to Pennsylvania American Water about purchasing a two-acre plot of vacant land along the Yellow Breeches Creek in Fairview Township, across from New Cumberland Borough Park. Colello says the plan is still “a dream,” but she says with hard work and fundraising, it could eventually happen.
The standalone center would be open for several hours per day after school for teens to gather in a safe place to eat and participate in inclusive programs. When not being used by teens during school hours, the building could be used a community center and meeting place. An estimated price tag for purchasing the land and building a center is estimated at $1 million. The group says it has raised approximately $28,000 so far and expects it will take at least five years to raise sufficient funds for a new building.
Kowalski, 17, went missing on the Susquehanna River in December of 2014, after setting off on his canoe for a day of deer hunting. His body was found several months later after a massive search that lasted through the winter.