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Third annual memorial event raises funds and fun

Family friendly games and activities for a good cause can be had Sunday at the Third Annual Nathan Chris Baker FUN DAY, held at Hoppers KidZone and the Liberty Exchange Shopping Center parking lot in Eldersburg.

Inflatable play sets, carnival games and a dunk tank are among the attractions that will be on offer from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., according to Kristi Hyde, owner of Hoppers KidZone.

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"Hoppers in an indoor moon bounce center — we have six moon bounces inside and we have five more coming outside," she said. "We will have fire trucks and police cars. We have a bulldozer; it's such a simple thing, but kids love climbing in there and honking the horn. The kids love it and that's what it's all about."

The event is an fundraising activity put on by the Nathan Chris Baker Foundation, which was set up to honor the memory of Nathan, who was 5 when he died in a swimming accident over Labor Day weekend in 2012, according to Nathan's father, Justin Baker.

At the time of his death, Nathan had been attending Mechanicsville Elementary School for a short time and Justin Baker and Nathan's mother Katie Baker were saddened to hear that the school's playground was being closed to the children because it was unsafe. They decided that they might turn the first FUN DAY memorial event for Nathan into a fundraiser for the school.

"We asked that people donate to the PTA in lieu of flowers and ended up raising $80,000 for their playground project," Justin Baker said. "The playground was dedicated to Nathan in August last year."

The foundation has since funded another playground at Sandymount Elementary School in Finksburg, which opened last month according to Justin Baker, and has begun offering something called Days of Greatness to members of the community that are facing a terminal illness or are recovering from a tragic loss and pay for them to have a great day of their choosing, going to a sports game or other favorite activities.

"When Nate died, we received a lot of support from our friends, from the community, from the church and we just wanted to able to give that back to help our community that we live in and that helped us," Justin Baker said.

Justin Baker said the foundation is looking for ideas for another large project to fund, such as a playground or baseball field, as well as individuals who deserve a Day of Greatness. Applications for suggesting ideas or nominating an individual can be found at the foundation's website at http://www.nathanchrisbaker.com.

Whatever the next project for the foundation, it is the proceeds of the FUN DAY event that will help fund it. If last year's event is any indication, with more than 600 children showing up, according to Hyde, the foundation should be able to continue giving back to the community going forward.

"It's just a fun event for the whole family and for kids to come and enjoy and have a good time," Hyde said. "We live in such an awesome community, everyone comes together. It's just wonderful."

Reach staff writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com.

If you go

What: Third Annual Nathan Chris Baker FUN DAY

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5

Where: Hoppers KidZone in Liberty Shopping Center, 5965 Exchange Drive, Eldersburg

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Cost: $10 per child, $8 for children wearing a Nathan Chris Baker Foundation "Go Out. Be Great." T-Shirt

For more information, to acquire a T-Shirt or to suggest a project to the Nathan Chris Baker Foundation, go to their website at http://www.nathanchrisbaker.com.

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