KangaZoom stays open through tragedy

Usher’s stepson inspiration for business mascot

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Following a watercraft accident that struck a chord close to many North Fulton residents’ hearts, one family has pulled together to keep their business open.

On any given day, KangaZoom, off Windward Parkway in Alpharetta, bustles with children running and laughing in the play center decorated as a child’s dream.

KangaZoom is owned by Tameka Raymond, the ex-wife of entertainer Usher Raymond, and the mother of Kile Glover, the 11-year-old boy who was declared brain dead after a watercraft accident on July 6 on Lake Lanier. Kile's heart stopped beating two weeks later on July 21.

Ever since the accident, his mother had remained by his side.

The kangaroo mascot painted at the Alpharetta KangaZoom location was named after Kile when the doors first opened a year-and-a-half ago.

As employees work to keep the facility bright and upbeat, most visitors are unaware of the underlying concern facing the business.

Raymond first decided to open the facility because her children loved to play at a similar place when they were growing up, but found nothing similar in Johns Creek.

Raymond envisioned a small, more intimate play place where parents could sit and keep their kids in sight from anywhere in the room.

“We are set up to be adult-friendly as well,” said Martina Martin, general manager for KangaZoom. “It’s a place where [parents] can relax.”

As time went by, however, KangaZoom’s main issue has become gaining visibility in the area.

“There are a lot of parents who live right around the corner and never knew that we were here,” Martin said.

To help other local start-ups facing the same predicament, KangaZoom has hosted several events for new vendors to showcase their products and services to KangaZoom customers at no charge.

Companies such as Good Measure Meals, Alpharetta Moms and Coupsicle have taken advantage of this opportunity.

Darrin Banks, 21, Raymond’s eldest son, said he feels customers are drawn to the facility by the atmosphere.

“I just believe that the customers return for the cleanliness, the colors and the upkeep of the facility,” Banks said. “I get this all the time from customers, ‘We love the colors and we love the cleanliness.’”

Banks said that the strong involvement of the family is the key to KangaZoom’s livelihood.

Banks has been working with the company since the beginning.

Martin also mentioned Raymond’s other children visit the facility frequently.

“Kile would come and, because he’s very studious, he would work behind the desk and do his own schoolwork,” Martin said.

Martin speaks daily with Raymond but has taken a more prominent role at KangaZoom in the wake of the accident.

“I just had to step in and make sure I was laser-focused on keeping this running because this means so much to [Raymond],” Martin said. “It’s a crucial time because [Kile] was an inspiration for this place, and this is all she has right now, so we have to make this work.”

KangaZoom offers summer camps, open play and children’s parties at its location off Windward Parkway.

For more, visit www.kangazoomparty.com

kile, glover, tameka, raymond, usher