Connecting Everyone to the Outdoors

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2023 Legacy Luncheon celebrates successes, announces access for all

We are grateful that the 2023 Legacy Luncheon for the Parks was another huge success thanks to our inspiring speaker and the more than 1,100 sponsors and Friends who gathered at the beautiful Seven Islands State Birding Park to show their support for our work.

Keynote speaker Chuck Leavell shared his inspiring life story of balancing the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, family and his love of forests. To close out the luncheon, Leavell charmed the hundreds of business and community leaders in attendance with his incredible piano mastery on stage.

Furthering our mission to create access for all to outdoor recreation, Legacy Parks announced a 20-mile world-class, fully accessible water trail on the French Broad River from Seven Islands to Downtown Knoxville. Through an invaluable partnership with Knox County, the City of Knoxville, TWRA and TVA, three accessible docks have been fully funded and will be installed at Seven Islands, Cruze Landing and Asbury Landing to create ideal access at 5 to 7 mile intervals along the river creating a truly adaptive and complete paddling experience for all. This accessible water trail will be the first of its kind in the state and what we hope will be the first of many.

A special announcement for Seven Islands, the site of the luncheon, was also made during the luncheon: a generous land donation of 90 acres from the Claussen family that will be incorporated into the state park. Deputy Commissioner Greer Tidwell of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation expressed deep gratitude for the Claussen family’s generosity. “The Claussen’s extraordinary land donation and unwavering support for Seven Islands State Birding Park have transformed a vision into a reality, creating a place where nature and people thrive. Their generosity is monumental, and we are profoundly grateful for their enduring commitment to the park’s mission and its future,” said Tidwell.

Other Legacy Parks project highlights included:

  • Construction is set for completion on the French Broad Veterans Memorial Park in spring 2024.
  • Fundraising efforts continue for the 1.5-mile SoKno Art Trail in the heart of South Knoxville’s business district.
  • Fundraising has begun for the Play Every Day initiative which will enhance five sports fields at John Tarleton Park with artificial turf.
  • Creating the Angora Frog Farm in Powell – a unique park designed for little kids with big imaginations.
  • Next month, Legacy Parks will open the first of its kind in the region Intergenerational Playspace at Beverly Park. A park designed specifically for interaction between seniors and children.

The Legacy Luncheon for the Parks is our biggest fundraiser of the year, which allows us to continue our work of expanding and accessing our parks, trails, and waterways. A huge thank you goes to all of our sponsors, our elected officials in attendance, our wonderful board of directors, Seven Islands for hosting us, and everyone who supported this wonderful event.

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