It started with a routine afternoon that entailed a few select errands and a walk through town. But it resulted in an impactful moment that has been seen millions of times over across the country — and beyond.
Amanda Ivancicts and her son, TJ, were en route to a local store to pick up a repaired bike. But along their journey, TJ was enamored by the Bourbonnais Event and Skate Park Plaza, which had recently reopened.
After a brief plea from TJ, who was on his way to the bike shop from daycare, Ivancicts said she gave him the go-ahead to spend time at the popular venue, so long as it not exceed an hour.
And then it happened. A man named Ben decided to show TJ how to traverse the ramp, which could be considered challenging, depending on a child’s skill level, during the Sept. 10 visit.
“The hour was up, but Ben was helping out. I had to start videotaping,” Ivancicts said as she recalled the experience with Country Herald. “For TJ, all it took was about 15 minutes of trying, having him go down. Fifteen minutes is really all it took.”
Ivancicts said she felt compelled to record the snapshot in time for a number of reasons — chief among them being an opportunity to see her son literally overcome an obstacle with the help of someone in the community.
“I think he’s always been scared to go down that one,” Ivancicts said of the ramp at the Skate Park Plaza. “There’s another one that he’s been able to go down. But this one has always been hard for him because it’s such an extreme drop.”
Ivancicts promptly posted the inspiring moment to her TikTok page, and it swiftly spread the social media ecosystem.
“It ended up going viral overnight,” Ivancicts said. “It has about 5-and-a-half million views right now.”
The day after the post, staffers at ESPN’s “SportsCenter” had reached out to Ivancicts and sought approval to post the video to the program’s Facebook page. “I said, ‘absolutely,’” Ivancicts recalled of the interaction.
Proving the power social media has, Ivancicts said she has received comments locally and in far-flung areas of the country from people who took note of the feel-good moment.
“I’ve been hearing from people in Florida and California — people that I went to high school with,” Ivancicts said. “People have seen it, and it’s been so amazing. It was cool to see people all over who recognized the skate park.”
Since that pivotal afternoon, Ivancicts said TJ has made his visits to the Skate Park Plaza a routine occurrence. Ben, who reconnected with Ivancicts and her son through TikTok after the initial meeting, has been at the park routinely as well to lend a helping hand.
“It’s such a small world,” Ivancicts said. “It was an afternoon where we didn’t even think about going to the skate park.”
For the Village of Bourbonnais, the viral moment puts a fresh coat of optimism on the skate park, which was intermittently closed due to vandalism on Aug. 24. It reopened Sept. 2 with a call to the community.
“Thank you (once again) to our amazing Public Works team for cleaning up the skate park,” staffers posted on the village’s official Facebook page. “Please remind youth to respect our parks and equipment and to use the provided trash receptacles.”
The post continued, “Safety warnings and rules are posted for viewing and will be enforced to the fullest extent of the law. Cameras have been placed and are 100% in working order. Let’s not ruin a free local amenity for everyone. If you see something, please say something.”