By Carly Kwiecien
Pottawatomie Park native Kevin Egan has been a supporter and visitor of Friendship Botanic Gardens ever since his youth.
From growing up in the neighborhood behind the 105-acres of land, Egan has found the Gardens to be a memory-making place for decades.
“I went to the Gardens a lot as a child, just playing around,” Egan said. “I always remember having a good time here.”
He was intrigued by the beauty of the Gardens right in his backyard.
In fact, the house that Egan grew up in was developed by Dr. Warren, the same person who was so impressed with the grounds of the garden and the theme of “Peace and Friendship to All Nations,” that he made an offer to the Stauffer brothers to create an International Friendship Garden at the site.
“I always enjoyed planting and everything about nature,” Egan said. “My grandfather and father both loved to garden so it was a natural extension for me to study biology in college.”
Although Egan has been a long-time visitor to the Gardens, he became a member of the board of directors through one of his friends.
“The most rewarding part of being on the Board for the Gardens is knowing you’re trying to change Michigan City for the better and provide a beautiful place where people can come with their families and enjoy the day,” Egan said.
For the past three years, Egan and 14-year-old son, Sean, have put in countless hours into the development of their own garden, which is titled the Juvenile Diabetes Peace Garden.
Sean was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the young age of 7. It is an incurable, chronic disease in which the body is unable to produce the insulin needed to break down and store energy for food.
“Before we began maintaining this garden, it was titled the Peace Garden,” Egan said. “I wanted to incorporate the past into the future by keeping its original name and by adding ‘Juvenile Diabetes’ to the beginning of it.”
This garden serves as a resource to help raise awareness for Type 1 Diabetes research.
“I hope this garden will provide peace to the lives of Type 1 juveniles,” Egan said. “Hopefully people will come out to this beautiful garden and perhaps participate by helping take care of it. There’s a lot of confusion circling the differences in Type 1 and Type 2, so it is my goal to make the community aware of the tremendous differences between the two.”
Egan’s garden is a place of tranquility and bonding for he and his family. One can spot his garden by the American flag, lavender and the abundance of roses.
“It has taken a lot of work to get the garden to be what we had envisioned it to be, and we’ve been keeping up with it by visiting every few weeks to take care of it,” Egan said. “It’s pretty much grown and matured and is just a matter of maintenance now. It’s been nice to come here and be able to spend time with my family doing something different together. I hope that someday Sean will have the same love of gardening as I do.”
In addition to gardening with his family, Egan also enjoys traveling with them all around the country.
“One of our passions is to take a vacation every year and visit a National Park in the United States,” Egan said. “They’re really great places, of course filled with flowers and nature.”
Together, they’ve traveled to Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Badlands, Tetons and Acadia and are already planning to go to Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park next year.
“Every trip we go on is its own adventure,” Egan said.