Zach’s Stadium one step closer to goal in Hudson

There’s something truly special about a community coming together in response to adversity and rallying around a common goal.

We see it after natural disasters. We see it after devastating fires. We see it after unthinkable crimes.

None of those specific examples apply to what is scheduled to happen Friday morning on a parcel of industrial land off Route 111 in Hudson, but that doesn’t make what is planned any less remarkable.

At 8:30 a.m., a community will gather for the ceremonial groundbreaking of a football stadium. Not just any football stadium, but one dedicated to the memory of an 11-year-old boy who died unexpectedly in his sleep from an undetected heart disorder in March 2010.

Zach’s Stadium will be part of a 13-acre sports complex that is expected to consist of two football fields, a baseball diamond, an ice skating rink, walking path and other amenities. It will serve as the home field for the Hudson-Litchfield Bears football team.

Michael Tompkins said his son, Zachary, spoke frequently of finding a new football field for his Bears. In fact, shortly before the Presentation of Mary Academy fifth-grader died, he made a ceramic plate in the shape of a football stadium inscribed with the words: “Zach’s Stadium – Home of the Bears.”

Upon his tragic death, his family decided to do just that. The Zachary M. Tompkins Memorial Fund was established at a local bank with the goal of raising enough money to build a new football stadium in town.

That’s when the community rallied around the Tompkins family to help make Zach’s special dream a reality.

In March 2011, on the one-year anniversary of his death, Town Meeting voters authorized a 25-year, rent-lease agreement with the Hudson-Litchfield Youth Football & Cheer Inc. in Zach’s memory for 13 acres at 9 Industrial Drive.

Later, the town was able to secure two grants from the state Department of Environmental Services and the Regional Economic Development Center of Southern New Hampshire to pay the estimated $650,000 cost of dealing with asbestos in the soil and preparing the site for use as a recreation complex.

In the meantime, supporters have been busy raising roughly $300,000 toward the estimated $1 million cost of the project through numerous fundraising projects, such as a Ride for Zach Motorcycle Run and the annual Zach Attack 5K Fun Walk/Run.

All that hard work will culminate Friday morning with the official groundbreaking for Zach’s Stadium. Gov. John Lynch and U.S. Rep. Charles Bass are among the state and local dignitaries who are expected to be on hand for this special event and to show their support for Zach’s parents, Michael and Necole, and his brothers, Christopher, 15, and Nicholas, 10.

Not that his journey has been easy, emotionally or otherwise.

We can’t begin to imagine what the Tompkins family has endured these past 21?2 years, ever since the day Necole entered Zach’s room to wake him for school, only to find him cold and unresponsive.

But we hope she and her family can find some comfort in Friday’s achievement, not just as the first visible step in building the stadium, but in the extraordinary way the community has joined hands to help make their son’s dream come true.