Nicky Hayden Commons Area

A driver moves along the new Nicky Hayden Commons Area on Wednesday at the St. Joseph Peace Mission campus on Third Street in Owensboro.

Residents and staff of St. Joseph Peace Mission played cornhole and basketball Wednesday afternoon at the new Nicky Hayden Commons Area, which is on the nonprofit’s Third Street campus.

The basketball backboards were designed with a photo of Hayden, an international motorcycle racing star. He died in May 2017 after being hit by a car while training on his bicycle in Italy.

On the bottom left corner of the backboards, Hayden’s racing number — 69 — and “Kentucky Kid” are displayed. Kentucky Kid was his nickname.

“We don’t know of anybody else anywhere in the world who has a backboard like these,” said Paula Yevincy, president of St. Joseph Peace Mission.

The Nicky Hayden Memorial Foundation helped fund the $25,000 commons area, which sits beside the Hayden Home for Girls. That facility opened a year ago and was built in Hayden’s honor.

His sister, Kathleen Hayden McFadden, serves on the St. Joseph Peace Mission board. She attended Wednesday’s event.

“It’s nice ... to give back to the community,” she said of the foundation in her brother’s memory. “Nicky loved Owensboro. We love Owensboro.”

The fenced commons area faces Goose Egg Park and fills the campus’ vacant space. The outdoor gathering spot was part of the mission’s master plan for years, Yevincy said.

“We have grown so much that we did not have enough space for the kids to get out and play,” Yevincy said. “When COVID hit, we realized they would be here all the time. They would need an escape from each other.”

The new outdoor space is more than a play area. It includes a large gazebo — paid for by the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels — for parent visits and therapy sessions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Residents also can use the covered area when they need solitude or want to work on a special project.

David Marshall, chairman of the St. Joseph Peace Mission board, said the new commons area creates more of a campus feeling, and the nonprofit is grateful to contributors who made it possible.

With the coronavirus, completion of the outdoor space proved to be perfect timing, Marshall said.

Nonprofits have been challenged this year, he said, and their employees have worked in ways they never imagined before the virus hit.

“They’ve done a wonderful job,” Marshall said of the nonprofit’s staff. “It’s a celebration of everything they’ve had to go through.”

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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