Home » City renames skate park after Johnny Romano
April 26, 2009 – The Galveston County Daily News
By Lionel Green
Two days after Johnny Romano would’ve celebrated his 11th birthday, his family, friends and others he inspired gathered together Saturday to honor the skateboarder with “probably the best birthday present” ever.
The city of Galveston renamed Menard Park’s skate park the Johnny Romano Skate Park during a ceremony.
“He would be embarrassed we were making such a fuss over him,” said Rhonda Gregg, a family friend who spearheaded construction of the skate park. “Johnny was a rock star little skater pro, but he did it just because he loved it.
“Johnny would be proud. This is his park. That’s his home break that he surfed out front. This is what he lived for. I guarantee he’s watching us and smiling today.”
Johnny died in September at the age of 10 after a three-and-a-half-year battle with leukemia. Officials allowed him to skate at the park before its opening in June after he relapsed and just before he returned for treatment.
Johnny’s father, Mike, spoke poignantly about the “one special hour” Johnny skated at the park before it opened.
“Skateboarding was a passion for Johnny and a relief valve,” Mike said. “Skating got him through the tough times. It’s something he would lean on.”
Other speakers at the event included Parks and Recreation Director Barbara Sanderson, Mayor Pro Tem Danny Weber, architect Brax Easterwood and family friend Rebecca Gregg.
“Let Johnny and his name placed on this park be inspiration to each and every one of you,” Weber said.
Another highlight of the ceremony featured the nonprofit organization, Johnny Kicks Cancer, awarding its first grant of $5,000 to the leukemia program at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Romano’s mother, Julie, founded Johnny Kicks Cancer.
“Never through all those years of treatment did he cry, was angry or was upset,” Dreyer said. “His last day, when he was so sick, you could still get a hint of a smile from him. This is just the perfect place for his spirit to live on … or roll on, I think they say in this lingo.”
“He was always so optimistic and always faced his treatment with a lot of strength and energy,” Horton said. “He was a great joy to take care of.”
Johnny’s parents were moved by the park dedication.
“It means the world to me and our family,” Julie said. “It’s just a wonderful day, so close to Johnny’s birthday, and he loved skating. There are no words to describe how meaningful it is.”