“Disc Man” to be remembered at Discstock

by Dan Nedelko on August 18, 2010

Read the article online in the Almaguin News

Rob Learn News Staff – SOUTH RIVER

Sometimes the impact of someone’s life isn’t fully appreciated until after they are gone.

That certainly appears to be the case of Dusan Nedelko, who died in a car accident last February, but whose efforts towards community betterment will continue at the end of this month and beyond.

An avid disc golfer, Nedelko’s departure was felt across the province, through out the competitive disc golf community and beyond. And, in honour of him, that same community is gathering on August 27, 28 and 29 in his hometown of South River, where he gave the sport a home at Tom Thomson Park on the shores of the South River.

“It’s not going to be a whole lot different except the proceeds are going to go to the foundation instead of the local club,” said Nedelko’s mother Hanna Trafford.

“It” is Discstock, one of four annual tournaments at Tom Thomson Park that Nedelko organized each year.

And while the tournament had been growing in popularity, members of the disc golf community are embracing this year’s tourney with more than 150 golfers expected along with their friends and family.

“It’s grown gradually since Dusan started it and now it’s really taken off,” said Trafford.

Tom Thomson Park has taken on extra special meaning to those who knew Nedelko.After he moved to the South River area about eight years ago, Nedelko heard about the development of Tom Thomson Park and started making inquiries as to whether there would be room for a disc golf course there.

“He had such a love of disc golf that when he saw that piece of ground, he immediately saw a golf course,“ said Trafford.

Over the course of a few years, Nedelko would not only design the course, but raise the money to build it and spend a lot of time working on it, clearing brush and making way for the 18 holes he had envisioned.

And after the course’s completion Nedelko kept on spreading the word of disc golf, starting the Algonquin Disc Golf Club, offering free lessons to youth and organizing the four tournaments each year, plus traveling to others.

“Just about every course in Ontario is doing something for him. It’s very overwhelming,“ said Trafford who noted that she had just learned that a new disc golf course in Sudbury was dedicating a hole to his memory.

And to help keep his memory alive, Trafford and her son, Nedelko’s younger brother Dan, have started a foundation that will support his other passion, teaching kids about the outdoors.

“The focus of Dusan’s Foundation is to help young people get into the outdoors,“ said Trafford. She notes that Nedelko worked at Wendigo Expeditions and Project Dare along with other places that taught youth the skills required for working and playing in the outdoors.

Trafford said she wants to see the foundation support young people in getting certifications that will allow them to teach others.

She said, for example, it might help a youth get certified in whitewater canoeing so they could teach other younger children.

The first part of the fundraiser is already proving to be a big success. Nedelko was an avid collector of discs for disc golf and had a collection that numbered in the several hundreds  and they are all personalized.

“We thought it was a bad habit at the time, but he signed absolutely everything he owned,“ said Trafford, noting that each disc bears his mark.

The discs are being auctioned at www.dusansfoundation.org and the first round of the auction will end on Saturday night at Discstock.

Also new to Discstock this year will be a community component where members of the public are invited to the park for a concert and dance beginning at 7 p.m. The Lions will be on hand serving food and refreshments while three acts take the stage.

They are, in no particular order, the Dishslayers, a punkish band from Ottawa with a heavy acoustic sound, rather than electric; up and coming singer-songwriter Tara Holloway, who’s voice is sure to enchant from the first notes; and all the way from Montreal is DJ Mr. Bee, who will be playing favourites from Nedelko’s vinyl collection for people to dance to or enjoy otherwise.

Organizers ask for donations, but admission is free and open to everyone.And between a tournament and a big gathering of his friends, both Nedelko’s brother Dan and his mother say it is the course they are most looking forward to seeing on the weekend of August 28.

“I think the course is beautiful,“ said Trafford. “I think it is so wonderful that the town is not going to be changing the park.“

“It’s been a rough year thus far and this is a positive and caring way to remember him. He put so much time and effort into Tom Thomson Park. It’s very much a living monument to Dusan. Everyone coming together will be what Dusan wants,“ said Dan.

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