The Transylvania Times -

Courtine Family, Community Celebrate A 'Hard,' 'Special' Day


Last updated 9/14/2020 at 4:49pm

The Courtine family stand beside the new fitness park named after Jameson Courtine, who died in February 2019. (Times photo by Alex Perri)

Wednesday, Sept. 9, was a "hard" and "special" day, according to Dan Courtine.

Courtine was speaking during the ribbon cutting for the Jameson's Joy Memorial Fitness Park, named after his son, Brevard Elementary student Jameson, who died of an illness in February 2019 and loved the show "American Ninja Warrior."

"Today is a hard day," he said. "There is a huge hole in our family and this world because of the loss of our beautiful son, Jameson. Nothing will ever fill that hole or replace the love and the joy we had with Jameson on this earth, but today is a special day. Today, highlights the good that exists in this world. Today highlights the wonderfully positive things we can accomplish when we put selfishness, hate and anger aside, and we work together with others to improve our communities."

Since Jameson's death, Courtine has worked with his foundation, Jameson's Joy, to accomplish the foundation's goal of "transforming communities through kindness."

Adding a ninja-warrior style obstacle course to the community was one of the goals of the Jameson's Joy Foundation, and when Transylvania County Parks and Recreation Director Jared Mull learned the foundation was hoping to build one, he saw an opportunity for the whole community.

An adult fitness and wellness program was the number one need in the county's 2016 parks and recreation master plan.

The new fitness park is designed to be used by both adults and kids of differing fitness levels.

Mull said the park allows people to challenge their skills at each obstacle to try to improve their performances and exercise in a fun way.

Since the park is sandwiched between county ball fields and the bike path, it offers an additional opportunity for the whole family to stop and give the course a try.

Courtine said its location was important to him, as the Brevard bike path is the last place he and Jameson ever had a father-son outing.

During the ceremony Courtine shared the story, saying that on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, he and Jameson had planned to go for a bike ride. Courtine said it had been raining all night and he, "did everything (he) could to get out of going on that bike ride."

Courtine said that Jameson dragged him out of bed and the two ended up spending the afternoon riding the entire bike path in spite of the muddy weather.

"We laughed. We talked. We explored. We lived just in that moment, and we bonded and we had a wonderful time. When it was done, I was so glad that my son would not let his father bail on him. And then Feb. 27, 2019 hit," Courtine said. "Thank God I did not quit on my son. This bike ride turned out to be the last father-son outing that I ever had with my boy. And to think I almost canceled it because of a little rain and a lot of laziness. To all the parents who are hearing this, it is absolutely critical that we say yes to our children as often as we possibly can."

Courtine's wife, Erica, as well as his son, Rhys, and father-in-law, Ray, were at the ceremony, along with several kids, parents and park project participants from the community. After Rhys and Jameson's friends cut the official ribbon, the kids in attendance, along with a few adults, tested out the new equipment.

Just since the equipment has been installed, Courtine said he already received positive feedback from the course from a mother with a daughter in physical therapy. Courtine read out her letter at the ceremony.

"I just wanted to let you know how much we have already enjoyed using the fitness course," the mother wrote. "This is something that is not only enjoyable and fun for a child like Olivia, but helpful for her continued physical therapy. It is something that means a lot to us because these are physical milestones that she can work to reach.

"We struggle to find things that physically challenge her that will also be fun enough for her to stick to but also keep her interest. From a mother that feels the weight of her responsibilities for how much her child is physically able to do, thank you."

Mull highlighted the work of Transylvania County operations staff, the City of Brevard public works staff, Barrs Recreation and Burke Playground Equipment, the Transylvania County Parks and Recreation Commission, county Project Manager Larry Reese, Assistant County Manager David McNeil, Transylvania County Parks & Recreation and the Board of Commissioners to make the project come to life. Mull said the project is an example of "a highly successful public-private partnership," as the county funded 65 percent of the fitness park, and Jameson's Joy Foundation funded the other 35. Over 80 Brevard businesses and hundreds of private citizens have donated to the foundation and Courtine said he's been overwhelmed with the community's generosity.

In the future, Courtine said the foundation will continue to focus on its mission of transformation through kindness, and Courtine is particularly excited to begin focusing on fathers and parents.

As an elementary teacher and a father who has lost a son, Courtine said he knows the importance of parental figures in children's lives and he hopes to strengthen parent-child bonds and build new mentorships where they are needed in the community.

More information on the Jameson's Joy Foundation can be found at


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