New Playground to Honor SWHS Alumnus, Highlight Addiction


By Hunter Richardson

You’ve gotta make fun happen.

This was the late Pat Janicki’s life goal and his family and the Sedro-Woolley Rotary Club are working to build a playground that will honor this legacy and at the same time talk about drug addiction and how to get help.

“He always said that younger siblings needed something to do while older kids were playing baseball, softball, or soccer,” Pat’s mom, Lisa Janicki said. “He always wanted Sedro-Woolley Rotary to take this on as a project. And they did. And it’s wonderful! So many people have been moved by Pat’s story and have contributed money, ideas, and time to this project. It’s really the story of how our community came together to fulfill Pat’s life goal.”

Pat was the youngest of five children who spent a lot of time at his siblings’ sporting events when he was younger. Pat passed away after a drug overdose and his sister, Stephanie Bachmeier, hopes his story will save someone else’s life.

“We have to change public perception and policies so that people battling addiction can get the help they need,” Bachmeier said.

Lisa, who also serves as a Skagit County Commissioner, said the playground will have a display with Pat’s story.

“Healing comes from the love, support, and prayers of so many people,” Lisa said. “His story of becoming addicted to prescription pain pills is way too common. He fell in a log-climbing demonstration and little did we know that would change our lives forever.”

Pat’s Playground will fill a gap at Janicki Field.

“It is creating a place for siblings to play while they are waiting on practices and games,” Bachmeier said.” It gives kids a positive outlet so they are being active instead of looking at screens or digging holes in the playfields.”
Pat was a member of the Sedro-Woolley Rotary Club.

“He wanted SW Rotary to build a playground at Janicki fields,” Bachmeier Said. “We are making that happen. I think it would make him happy, although I think he would have preferred to be here to manage the project instead of having it named after him.”

The Rotary Club has raised about $177,000 for the playground.

“This park will be an inclusive park, meaning children with and without disabilities will have access to the play equipment,” said Sedro-Woolley Rotary President Mike Moser. “There will be something for everybody. I also believe that families will come to Janicki Field just to use the playground.”

Last fall a team of Rotarians did the prep work at Janicki Fields. This included sod removal, and building concrete pads for the playground equipment. A team of Rotarians is working to put the various pieces together.

“We are currently waiting on some drier weather to be able to move the play equipment outside and start the installation at Janicki Fields,” Moser said.
The goal is to have the playground done by early summer. The work is heavily dependent on the weather and getting the work site to dry out.

There is still a bit of fundraising going on to fund Phase 2 of this project, which will replace the wood chips that will go down around the play equipment with a hard, rubber surface. The ultimate goal as the rubber surface requires much less maintenance.

Mayor Julia Johnson and Lisa traveled to Roundrock, Texas and visited the “Play for All” Playground specifically to see the custom-built train called the “Express,” which is the nickname for the long-time Texas Rangers’ pitcher Nolan Ryan.

Pat’s Playground will be both accessible and inclusive. Accessible means a child in a wheelchair can get to the play area. Inclusive means there’s something for them to play on once they get there. There are two play structures that are specifically designed for kids in wheelchairs.

“The biggest is the caboose which is accessed from the sidewalk and a ramp,” Lisa Janicki said. ”Lots of kids can fit in the caboose, including someone in a wheelchair. Together they can lean from side to side creating a rocking motion because the caboose is mounted on large springs.”

The train also has a Railroad-crossing sign that can be cranked to create lights and sound. In the dinosaur pit where “fossils” are buried under sand, there will be seated excavators in the sand pit and there will be an excavator mounted on concrete that someone in a wheelchair can operate and dig in the same dino pit with the other kids.

“When we raise enough money to install rubberized hardened surface in the whole play area, these other features will be accessible to all kids. Until we complete fundraising, some of the playground will have wood chips which make it difficult for kids and adults challenged with mobility.” Pat’s Playground is expected to open in late july, with a dedication tentatively planned for early august. No firm date has been set as it depends on progress and inspections.