Urbana students dedicate skate park to classmate who died of cancer

Damian Prendergast was diagnosed with germ cell cancer in October 2012 and passed away November 2013, right in the middle of his senior year.

“That’s what makes me the proudest about Damian, he never had a bad attitude about it,” said Wade Prendergast, Damian’s father. “He handled it with dignity, and I think anyone in the community that watched him go through it was impressed with his maturity level.”

The seniors at Urbana High School wanted to do something to honor Prendergast, so they decided why not something that involved the place he spent most of his time, Urbana High School teacher Mike Mays said.

Mays said it started during study hall with three students, Jamie Tullis, Ellen Henry and Kwyncie Purtee. Later, the senior class decided to raise money for a plaque for dedicating the skate park to Prendergast.

The 12th graders ended up raising $700 for the project.

Thursday evening, the senior class and other community members dedicated the plaque honoring Prendergast at the skate park.

“It was something I was not expecting and I was really happy,” Wade Prendergast said. “It was more than what I would have ever expected from the senior class and the kids. It meant the world to me.”

“He’s looking down on it right now, just smiling on it. He’d be happy to know it’s here,” said Jason Ferguson, one of Damian Prendergast’s friends.

His father said there could not have been a better place to make a memorial for his son.

“He loved this place and everybody that came here. This was his home away from home, this park here,” Prendergast said.

Another of his friends, Caleb Atha, said he tried to spend as much time with Damian Prendergast as he could before he died last fall. Atha said he could always find his friend at the skate park.

“If there wasn’t snow or full of rain, he was here. He was here every day he could be,” Atha said.

The plaque cost around $500 and Mays said the rest of the money was given to the family.

Wade Prendergast said after graduating high school his son planned to enter into the military and become a father.