“Miracle Way” Fundraising Campaign Heats Up

By Joel Charron & Karen Morrell

Amherstburg residents are taking it upon themselves to raise money to buy the naming rights for the unnamed road leading to the United Communities Credit Union Complex.

Residents became outraged when council and the Amherstburg Rotary Club accepted donations for the UCCUC from Jim Massen, a convicted sex offender.  Massen pleaded guilty in 1990 to two counts of gross indecency and one count of invitation to sexual touching involving three teenage boys. He served a year in prison and was later granted a pardon.

Massen donated $50,000 to the Rotary Club for his name to be displayed on the scoreboard and $55,000 to the town for the road leading into the complex to bear his surname.

On Feb. 9 council decided at an in camera meeting to return Massen’s money. Later that day, the “Massen Dr.” street sign was removed.

Loretta Watson-Budway and former councilor Rick Fryer have ignited a fundraising campaign to replace the $55,000 donation made by Jim Massen, in addition to the $50,000 donation for the scoreboard in the Miracle League baseball diamond.

“If we could get everyone to donate just $3, that would add up to $66,000. This is a great way for the community to come together and turn a negative into a positive, and feel good about the recreation centre again,” said Fryer.

As of Saturday, there was $1,000 in donations.

He proposes that the money raised be used to offset the debt load on the municipality in light of the town returning Massen’s donation and rename the road to “Miracle Way”. The road is currently nameless. The funds could also be used for the Miracle League Scoreboard and suggested that it be named in memory of Robert Pillon who was a fixture at the old arena, where everyone knew him.

They hope that this campaign will go nationwide so that everyone who has ever suffered from sexual abuse will have an opportunity to donate.

Fryer has set up a Pay Pal account where you can donate at: http://bit.ly/hQMaw1. There is also a link on the Amherst Burg Facebook page (the space between Amherst and burg is intentional). Fryer will also be contacting all the banks and credit unions in the coming week to set up accounts where people can donate as well.

For more information you can also email Rick Fryer at fryerrick@ymail.com.

Massen has told several media outlets that he would hold the town to their agreement and pursue the naming rights even if they gave back the money.

The topic has created quite the buzz on the Amherst Burg Facebook page.

“Miracle Way tells the story of our beautiful children and the Miracle of what we built for them,” said Patty Mower.

Melissa Sinasac suggested that a contest should be issued to all Amherstburg schools to submit names for the street.

“Maybe each class comes up with a list of names and then the school votes on the final decision,” said Sinasac.  “The name with the most votes wins. The future kids of this town will get the final say.”

One response to ““Miracle Way” Fundraising Campaign Heats Up”

  1. A. L. Gerow says:

    How is the fundraising campaign by Loretta Watson-Budway and Rick Fryer coming along to change the name of the former Massen Drive? Article featured Feb. 22, 2011 stated they had collected $1000 in donations.