Lawrence half pipe honoring legendary KC skateboarder would be unique within 500 miles, organizers say

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Friends and family of a northeast Kansas skateboarder who died after an accident last year hope to pay tribute to his love for the sport by building a new half pipe at Lawrence’s Centennial Park.

The project was conceived in memory of Corey Lawrence, a Kansas City-area native who died in May 2021 after suffering injuries from a fall while skateboarding in Florida. Organizers are currently working to raise $50,000 to fund the project; if they’re successful, Lawrence Parks & Recreation will match funds for the concrete pad where the ramp will be built.


The new apparatus will be located on the west side of Centennial Park, 600 Rockledge Road, just north of the “street course” that was originally developed in 1998 and redesigned in 2012.

Area skateboarding enthusiasts said the new half pipe – also known as a vertical or “vert” ramp – will be the only one of its kind within a 500-mile radius.

“They’re usually between 5 and 6 feet tall,” said Justin Shiney, owner of River Rat Skate Shop in North Lawrence. “There aren’t many options for riding taller ramps. The opportunity just doesn’t exist. It’s a special type of skateboarding that nobody gets to experience these days.”

In a collection of memorials published after Lawrence’s death, Dan Askew, a friend and master skateboard gripper at Escapist Skateboarding in Kansas City, detailed years of marveling at Lawrence’s skills during sessions at sanctioned and clandestine ramps that were built and then torn down across Kansas and Missouri.

Eventually he began compiling footage of Lawrence and other skaters in the area. He said he was glad to have recorded video of his friend on the half pipe, not just for his own memory but also for younger skateboarders to witness.

“So little footage of him existed,” Askew wrote. “It was all just legend. I think he was excited to finally share his skating with more people than the few who’d shared the deck of a vert ramp with him over the years.”

Shiney said the new project is part of a larger effort to double the size of the Centennial skateboard park. He is currently working with the City of Lawrence and has put together a capital improvement plan request for $250,000 in 2023. Shiney said the half pipe would be a good start to the expansion and would further Lawrence’s dream that “vert” skateboarding could be easily accessible to future generations.

“It’s hard to find access to these kinds of ramps,” Shiney said. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Kids get so good so fast when they’re young.”

As planned, the structure will be more than 11 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The steel frame will be covered by an all-weather riding surface made of paper and resin that is pressed and cured. The surface is expected to last at least five years, but Shiney said that with luck it could survive for up to 10 years. The foundation of the ramp will be composed, in part, of memorial bricks that are part of the fundraising campaign.

River Rat and Escapist Skateboarding have teamed with Merchtable, a Lawrence-based merchandise production company, to create Corey Lawrence Forever, an informational and fundraising webpage for the half pipe. Visitors will find additional details about the project; opportunities to donate; and customized skateboards, posters, T-shirts, and memorial bricks that are being sold to raise money.

Shiney said organizers hope to raise funds quickly enough to begin construction sometime this year.

“Corey was a vert skater,” Shiney said. “You wouldn’t see him skating street. It’s a certain kind of skating, and this creates a space for people to be able to do that again.”

Ben Hlavacek/Contributed Photo Corey Lawrence
Ben Hlavacek/Contributed Photo Corey Lawrence

Article updated at 1:17 p.m. Friday, March 25 to add more photos

Andrea Albright (she/her), reporter, can be reached at aalbright (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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