Nashville dedicates park to teen who died from cancer

Nashville dedicates park to teen who died from cancer
Thomas Clayton
Thomas Clayton
Curvis Sutton
Curvis Sutton

NASHVILLE, GA (WALB) - A park was officially opened in Nashville Thursday in honor of a Nashville teen who died from bone cancer.

And while city officials said the park itself is a symbol of strength and hope, the park was, as of Thursday, also expected to have a symbol of strength and hope from halfway across the country planted in it.

Songs and speeches, family members and community members, helped dedicate Hannah's Hope Park in downtown Nashville Thursday morning in honor of its name sake, 16 year old Hannah Marie Clayton who died from bone cancer in 2000.

"This is a positive contribution in a community where there's a great amount of contentiousness," said Hannah's father, Thomas Clayton.

Clayton said as proud as he is to have a memorial to his daughter, he is also proud of the other community members whom the memorial also represents.

"This celebrates the life of Mrs. Ruth Dixon, a wonderful lady who has now passed in our community, and another wonderful lady, Mary Ernest Houston," Clayton explained.

A seedling from what has become known as the "survivor tree" was also scheduled to be planted in the park. The American elm tree was the only tree that survived in the immediate blast area of the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

The tree has become a powerful symbol for residents in Oklahoma City, and Hannah's father said it carries a powerful message and he is glad to have the seedling in the park.

"To know that there is life following destruction," Clayton said, explaining the message he felt the tree carries. "And, that's a message people everywhere can identify with. Certainly, our community can and certainly our family does."

Hannah's uncle, Curvis Sutton, also attended the ceremony. "We just thought the world of her and her whole family," said Sutton.
"This is a special occasion."

Now, like the survivor tree in Oklahoma City, this park stands as a tribute to what is gone, but certainly not forgotten.

The City of Nashville issued this statement:

"The City of Nashville is honored to be chosen to receive a seedling from the Survivor Tree. Hannah's Hope Park is dedicated to all who have who have battled cancer and their families. The spirit of the park is one of survival and weathering the storm. The story of the Survivor Tree is a symbol of strength of Oklahomans. In Nashville the tree will also serve as a symbol of strength to those who have battled cancer and have been challenged to weather the storm."

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