A donation to Floyd Dryden Middle School to purchase a much-needed wrestling mat came from a local Juneau business owner — who also happens to be the mayor.
In a letter sent to the board of education, City and Borough of Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon offered to personally donate up to $15,000 to cover the expense of one wrestling mat to be given specifically to the middle school, which was accepted by the board of education at its Tuesday night meeting. Weldon wrote the letter speaking from her position as owner of Napa Glacier-Auto Parts and as a mother of a former wrestler at the school.
“This has nothing to do with my position as mayor,” Weldon said in a phone interview. “This is my husband and I supporting coach Brown and coach Mercer at Floyd Dryden for helping my son when he went through the school and his wrestling career.”
The donation will partially cover a portion of an $80,000 ask for new mats at the school that was included in a larger request by the district which in January passed a motion to ask the Juneau Assembly for an additional $2.5 million of funds outside of the city’s state-required funding cap, which adds to its initial request of $2.2 million during the budget cycle last year.
The request has yet to make its way to Assembly, but according to City Manager Rorie Watt, it is expected to head to the city Finance Committee in early March, and by then the mat will have already been purchased.
Superintendent Bridget Weiss said during the meeting that it is “relatively unique” for a school district to enjoy as much support from the business community as Juneau School District receives and thanked Glacier-Auto Parts for the donation.
Weldon said this donation has been a long time in the making and was mainly sought out because of the experience of her eldest son, Cody, who was a successful wrestler during his youth and high school years thanks to the support from Kris Mercer and Ken Brown. According to the district, multiple businesses were also solicited for mat donations with the opportunity for their logo and business name to appear on the side of the mat, though so far only Napa Glacier-Auto Parts has stepped forward with a donation.
During his senior year in 2016, Cody became the first wrestler from Juneau to win a state title in 12 years. He is now serving as a deployed U.S. Marine, and Weldon said he still holds onto the great work ethic he learned from his coaches and team.
“It means a lot,” Brown said to the Empire. “ Wrestling is a dying sport, it’s a beautiful sport, but it hasn’t gotten the support it needs in years, and for her to step in is so amazing and will help so many kids.”
Brown said Weldon always has been a long been a “huge supporter” of the wrestling programs in Juneau and said her son Cody an “incredible wrestler.”
“We’ve been looking at new mats for a while — mats we’re using at Floyd Dryden are 25 plus years old.”
Weldon said she hopes the mat will have Mercer’s name on the mat with his coined mantra of “Do the Work”.
“I’m really appreciative of this contribution,” said board member Brian Holst during the meeting. “That’s why our schools work well in our community, because of the great support we get.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.