Lisa Parlette wants to be clear. She’s not looking to have her daughter’s name on the side of a building to honor her memory.
No, Parlette’s vision is more about honoring her daughter Jenna by what that building stands for and how it is used, not its title.
“She always just tried to do her personal best,” Lisa Parlette said about her daughter Jenna Friday afternoon during the JennaStrong Fall Classic cross country meet at Wilmington College. “Jenna was competitive but in a really healthy way. She kinda felt like you could be competitive and still be friends. Competitiveness and friendliness … that’s my daughter.”
Despite having epilepsy and a pacemaker, Jenna Parlette was a decorated cross country and track runner for Wilmington College. She collapsed during a cross country race in 2013 and died three days later. Her fierce nature as, not only a runner but a lover of life, is remembered with the phrase “Run with you legs, win with your heart.”
Before she passed, Jenna and her mother Lisa Parlette “talked about an indoor (running) facility at Wilmington (College) where the teams could practice in the winter because right now they practice in Hermann Court. With the harsh Ohio winters, we thought that would be a great idea. And then we talked about how the people of Wilmington could use it as a walking track.”
That’s how the idea was born. A meeting to help begin the fund-raising process for an indoor running/athletic facility will be held 4 p.m. Tuesday at Wilmington College’s new Center for Sports Sciences. Light refreshments will be served. The public is welcome.
Fund-raising for the indoor running/athletic facility is going through the Jenna Parlette Memorial Foundation. The college is in full support of Parlette’s project.
“In doing my research and learning more about it,” Parlette said, “not only would it be a great asset for the community and high schools to have meets and then college meets, but the (facility) would have indoor basketball and tennis courts. This is something I’ve lived, eat and dreamed about. It was more faith-based than feasibility (in the beginning). We really need to communicate the message so people can see how this could work and what it could do. The mixer idea is just a way to introduce it.”
Parlette hopes the Tuesday meeting will provide information to the public to help form committees or earn donations to help make this facility a reality.
“I feel like I’ve planted the seed but we have to keep going,” Parlette said. “It’s going to take a lot of people to get this goal accomplished. It’s a big goal but I feel like it’s a really great project and it would do a lot of things on many levels. The goal is not to have a building named after Jenna.”
Parlette has talked with several people about the economic impact the facility would have on Wilmington. Debbie Stamper, the director of the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau is expected to be on hand Tuesday to offer insight in that regard.
A potential economic boon to the area could come as area conferences use the facility for league or national events.
Parlette said the Division II Great Midwest Athletic Conference has indicated, through a letter, it would be interested in holding its indoor track and field conference meet at the proposed facility in Wilmington, should the facility be constructed.
The league added it would also be an ideal place for future regional and national championship indoor track and field meets.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.