The Fairmont News
Early Saturday morning, a crowd was slowly growing in a pavilion at Morris Park. Some carried Frisbees, while others unloaded crockpots and produce from their cars.
They were all gearing up to compete in the 13th annual Ice Bowl Tournament and Chili Cook-Off at Morris Park, an event that has happened yearly, without fail, despite the common harshness of winter weather.
The tournament began on the Seth Burton Memorial Disc Golf Course Complex, a course honoring the life of a teenager who died tragically nearly 20 years ago.
After Burton’s death, his parents, Rebecca and Phillip Burton, quickly began looking for a way to forever remember their son’s memory and impact on his family and friends.
“After he died, we started to build a teen center,” Rebecca Burton said. “After a few years, we realized that that wasn’t going to happen.”
The couple spoke to Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission Director Tony Michalski about a disc golf course, and they knew they had found what they’d been looking for.
“Tony knew disc golf and loved it,” Rebecca Burton said. “Instead of developing a nonprofit, we funneled our money through the Marion County Parks and Rec, and then the West Virginia Disc Golf Association. Now, we have two 18-hole disc golf courses, and they’re starting to become nationally recognized… It’s been done totally on volunteer time and has been an amazing project.”
Keeping Seth’s ideals alive, the Ice Bowl was conceived, with proceeds going towards the Fairmont Soup Opera.
“Ice Bowls are a national thing with disc golf, because food pantries notoriously have a hard time after Christmas,” Rebeca Burton said. “Around the country, disc golf courses do Ice Bowls for their favorite food charity. The motto is ‘No wimps, no whiners’, because you never cancel (the event).”
Phillip Burton said that, yearly, the Ice Bowl raises around $2,500 for the Soup Opera. The chili cook-off, which started at the 2016 Ice Bowl, allows the Soup Opera to receive even more money than before.
This year, nine contestants entered the cook-off, while about 25 players entered the disc golf tournament.
Joshua Smith, a tournament director who would go on to win the 2017 Ice Bowl, has played with Frisbees and disc-golf’s modified discs for nearly his entire life, and said that nothing else is quite like it.
“Disc golf is a great sport,” Smith said. “It’s for the young, it’s for the old. It takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master… It gets you outside and walking around and being active.”
The tournament was not just open to experienced players, though, and even new players got to take a crack at winning it all.
While the Ice Bowl continues to be a success, the Burtons remain thankful for the memories of their son, a young man who touched the lives of more than his parents even knew.
“I learned more about Seth’s personality after he died, and what he really meant to people,” Rebecca Burton said. “He worked at the Soup Opera and Habitat for Humanity. Seth gave to his community, and gave to people.
“When Seth died, we had a choice to either crawl up and die ourselves, or to figure out how to go forward, and we figured out in that first, long night that the only way we were going to survive was if would open up our arms to the world like Seth, and try to do the best we could to continue with his spirit in life.”
Staff writer John Mark Shaver can be reached at 304-844-8485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original article: http://www.theet.com/fairmontnews/news/parents-continue-son-s-memory-through-disc-golf-course-burton/article_f35ac65e-be58-5129-89bd-95f69ae1989b.html