CASPER, Wyo. — Last Thursday evening, August 12, 2021, Catherine Johnson Morris was making her latest sandcastle at David Street Station when the air suddenly shifted. The night went from a normal, fun Rock-The-Block Thursday to what felt like “a scene right before a riot,” says Morris.
The sandcastles that could be seen all over town were all made by Morris as a fundraiser. The funds raised by this sand art are going to a family who needed a backyard makeover.
Due to a recent illness, an eight-year-old boy has become extremely sick and disabled. With his weakened immune system and the global pandemic, the boy and his family have begun to live a rather secluded life, only leaving to go to the hospital and back to his home. Morris saw this and thought to bring some light and fun into the boy’s and his family’s lives.
Article continues below...
She sought to help fill the gap with a new backyard playground that would accommodate the youngster. Her desire to make a safe backyard required a new playground, sod, fencing, deck work, and painting. Morris facilitated this using her sandcastles as a platform for the fundraiser.
With this goal in mind, Morris went to work building multiple sandcastles all around town throughout the summer, popping up at Art 321, A1 tires, Fire Station 5, Wyo Central Federal Credit Union, The Gaslight Social, and, finally, David Street Station. Morris says that “sandcastles are addictive; even without the fundraiser, I would still be making them.” However, the sandcastles gave her the opportunity to do something kind while also having fun.
While many of her earlier sandcastles had been taken back by mother nature “grain by grain,” her recent sandcastle at David Street Station was demolished by human means. This is was the last piece of sand art going up to help raise money for the little boy’s backyard.
Morris explains that she had heard the stories of the recent events at David Street Station, but did not think much about it until she herself experienced it.
In order to build the sandcastle at David Street Station, she and her husband hauled in over 2,000 pounds of sand. She was at the Station working with the sand when she began to feel unsafe. She says, “as I worked, I was distracted by the foul language being shouted around me … by the teens gathered nearby. I wondered what the parents of the kids playing at the splash pad would think of such vulgarity and looked up to catch a glimpse of their reaction, only to find that they had left.” She continues by saying that she heard the young people yelling things like “smash it,” “kick it” and “crack it,” referring to the digital display. With this, she jumped into action trying to bring the situation to security’s attention. The individuals left after security tried to approach them.
At this point her husband had arrived and although the castle was unfinished, Morris decided it was time to leave. She explains that she has lived in Casper for 31 years and never felt unsafe before. Morris told Oil City, “I resented the fact that I had to leave because you should feel safe, and it is supposed to be fun.” She left the walls of the castle without texture, windows, or doors, and she was not able to put on the second arch.
Over the next few days, Morris left the castle and didn’t think much of it, focusing more on working to build the backyard. On Sunday, she brought some tools to try and finish her work and was heartbroken to see it completely demolished.
Her castle at Wyo Central Federal Credit Union was found similarly destroyed. She says that there was a rock thrown into it and it looked as though someone had thrown pieces of the castle around.
Morris was discouraged, now thinking that she couldn’t fulfill her end of the bargain to the little boy because the destroyed sandcastle wouldn’t raise any money for her cause. However, after putting the word out there about what happened, it ended up being a “blessing in disguise”: the community of Casper, in support of her and her cause after seeing what happened, rushed to make donations to the fundraiser. Because of this kindness, she was able to fulfill her promise and then some to the family and young boy despite the uncalled-for vandalism.
With the help of the sandcastles, donations, and generous people, the backyard will be finished this week! The young boy and his family will finally have a safe place to play without worries. Morris herself has been working tirelessly to help build the backyard with the help of other volunteers.
Morris says that we can see that “Casper has a good side and the thugs are severely outnumbered!” Thankfully, the violent and destructive acts of vandalism have been countered by such a heartwarming response.
Finally, Morris says, “Something needs to be done to stop this and the community needs to be involved… We need to take the station back: It and what it stands for is too valuable not to.”
Thanks to the help of the Casper community, the fundraiser was a success and in a few days, despite the vandalism, the backyard playground will be complete.