MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- Joy often comes to mind when thinking of a child and their pet. When 13-year-old Corey Brown was found dead last January after being reported missing and falling from a communications tower, the community made sure to use his love of pets to bring that type of joy to the community and their four-legged friends.
"His dog Cooper had been adopted from here, so the love in Corey's heart for dogs was huge," said Shelly Nodland, executive director at the Marshalltown Animal Rescue League.
Instead of using memorial contributions for their grieving family, the Browns used it to turn tragedy into a tribute puppy park at the ARL.
"It just benefits the lives of the dogs while they are here. They'll have more exercise. It will relieve boredom, anxiety all kinds of things," said Nodland.
Over $20,000 poured in, all in honor of Corey and the family's cause to help animals.
"His mother shared with me that he wanted to be a veterinarian, but even more so he wished he could actually be a dog himself," Nodland said.
The next best thing to being a dog is owning one. The ARL says the space, which now offers six different dogs a chance to play all at once, gives a better shot at a new life. Nodland said, "The families can really interact with them and have fun and that will show the dogs true personality. I think it will lead to better adoptions."
With the help of in-town businesses, playground equipment was made, and a bench made of recycled materials was even created by Corey's classmates at Miller Middle School. "That's very special because it's coming from Corey's peers and it is in memory of him," said Nodland.
Corey's mother, Michaelle, said "Please tell them how blessed we feel through this horrible tragedy and that our sweet angel will be remembered for his kindness and love of dogs." A small teenager creating a powerful impact. "You are never too young and Corey did that in his short 13 years," Nodland said.
In the spring, the ARL will install a dual drinking fountain in the puppy park designed for dogs and humans. The money will come from the Corey Brown memorial donations.