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‘Le Gym à Zach’ opens to the public in memory of West Island family’s late son

Click to play video: 'Outdoor gym honours memory of late West Island resident' Outdoor gym honours memory of late West Island resident
A family's wish to honour their late son has come true thanks to the generosity of the West Island community. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports on the new gym to commemorate Zacharie Richard – Sep 20, 2021

The Richard’s family wish has come to reality as the new outdoor gym in memory of the late Zacharie Richard is open to the public in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue.

Equipped with pull up bars, steps and a rope climbing wall, “Le Gym à Zach” in Harpell Park is everything the family wished for.

“We like the equipment that’s in here. And we certainly like it when people of the community come and workout — young and old,” Mother Annette Vézina said.

 READ MORE: ‘Le Gym à Zach’: Community supports West Island family’s memorial for late son

Zacharie, who was 20, died from a shocking heart attack last June.

“We’re still trying to understand,” Vézina said.

She described her son as an extremely health-conscious person who was always staying active in various outdoor actives and sports.

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Zacharie’s father, Burno Richard, came up with the idea to build a fitness area, after remembering how his son frequently used the facility at the nearby McGill campus.

Made in partnership with Montreal based company Trekfit, the gym, the family says not only honours Zacharie’s memory but it also encourages the community at large to get active.

“It’s something that people will remember him by and it’s a way for him and for us to share his passion of exercise staying fit,” Vezina said.

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Quinn for the last few weeks has been taking advantage of the new fitness centre stopping to break a sweat after her runs instead of doing it at home.

“Zach was an athlete and a lover of nature and this is a perfect display in memory,” Quinn said.

The new facility was completely funded by donations.

Through a GoFundMe page, the community managed to raise more than $66,000 for the dream outdoor facility.

“It’s very touching. It’s overwhelming,” Vézina said.

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While mostly complete, Vézina says there are some finishing touches that need to be done.

Most importantly is a memorial rock that will hold a plaque with Zacharie’s name overlooking the space. The rock was a donation from Quinn’s farm, where Zacharie spent his time as an employee during many summers.

Plucked from the blueberry patch, Vézina says “Zach probably drove by this rock everyday as he drove the tractor.”

The family and the city plan to unveil the memorial at an official ignoration ceremony planned for sometime in early October.

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