New access to our waterways, new partnerships and new parks were announced Friday to a sold-out crowd of more than 1,000 guests at Legacy Parks Foundation’s Legacy Luncheon for the Parks.


The luncheon’s location on the Tennessee River provided the opportunity for Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation, to announce a new partnership with UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm.


“This coming year, UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm will work towards creating public access to the Tennessee River from this very site,” said Evans. “We are thrilled to work on this project to model an ideal live-work-play environment,” said Evans.


The Legacy Luncheon for the Parks is the Foundation’s annual fundraising event that celebrates the accomplishments of the organization over the past year.


“To date, Legacy Parks has raised more than $11 million for parks and trails, added over 600 acres of parkland in Knox County, and created over 50 miles of trails within Knoxville’s city limits,” said Evans.


Evans announced the opening of Collier Preserve in Powell – a 12-acre park that will be donated to Knox County next month.


In addition to the new park in Powell, Legacy Parks built a playground at Sharp’s Ridge in north Knoxville, through a grant from the Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee. “And we added trails around that playground to open up the woods to neighbors who have not had that experience,” said Evans. “We designed those trails as the first adaptive trails in the region and the first adaptive mountain bike trails.”


Evans also shared plans to build an adaptive trail for Dogwood Elementary School in south Knoxville. “So that all students can learn in their outdoor classroom and experience the joy of being in the woods,” said Evans.


Furthering Legacy Parks’ mission to create more adaptive access to outdoor recreation, Evans also announced that Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon have pledged to work with Legacy Parks to create accessible trails in every quadrant of the city and county.


Evans also announced a $5 million Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthy Place grant that was awarded to Legacy Parks late last year to create a multi-generational, multi-ability playspace at Morningside Park.


Evans went on to share Legacy Parks’ continued work to create access to our waterways including the purchase of Cruze Landing, a key launch point on the French Broad River that makes that segment of the river accessible to all.


Other announcements highlighted the fundraising efforts to build the French Broad Veterans Memorial Park overlooking the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery. “It is a beautiful and fitting location and will provide veterans and their families a place for celebration, commemoration and reflection,” said Evans.


In celebration of Legacy Parks’ work, keynote speakers, Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray, shared their inspiring stories from their travels traversing Spain’s Camino de Santiago trail – one pushing the other 500 miles.  Skeesuck and Gray imparted upon the hundreds of business and community leaders in attendance a story of friendship, hope, and sacrifice and insights learned along the way on what it means to overcome limitations – and push one another to be our best.


This year’s luncheon was presented by Verizon, BarberMcMurry architects, OrthoTennessee, Realty Trust Group, The Christman Company, The University of Tennessee Medical Center, and sponsored by Pilot Flying J, UCOR, Massey Electric, Bacon and Company, Discovery, Gulf & Ohio Railways, Home Federal Bank, KaTom Restaurant Supply Inc, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, MBI Companies, Mountain Commerce Bank, PetSafe, Planet H2O, Realty Executives, Robin Easter Design, The Trust Company of Tennessee, TVA, UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, Vick Dyer, Coldwell Bakers, Wallace Realtors, along with many table sponsors listed on