Editor’s Note: The information for this story comes from the Miracle League of Union County Facebook page. These are some of the many families in Union County with children and/or other family members who are unable to enjoy conventional parks and playgrounds because of disability. They are hoping that the Miracle League of Union County will soon be able to build an all-inclusive ALLstar Playground at Timken Sports Complex which will allow them to enjoy activities the rest of us take for granted. The MLUC is currently trying to raise $10,000 by July 31 in order to receive a $75,000 grant from the Timken Foundation that will help cover the cost of the construction of the playground.
UNION COUNTY — One is a veteran who lost his legs in the service of his country; others are children, some of them in wheelchairs or on crutches; but they all share one thing in common: their respective disabilities prevent them — and their families — from enjoying a day at the park and/on the playground that other families enjoy without a moment’s thought.
Here are their stories and why they are looking forward to the construction of the Miracle League of Union County’s ALLstar Playground at the Timken Sports Complex.
This is the story of the family of Kevin Brewington. It is told by his wife, Hannah.
On September 22, 2011 our lives as we knew it completely changed. Kevin had stepped on a IED and sustained multiple injuries including losing both legs above the knee, amputation of his right index finger and a savaged right arm. At that point in time we never thought about obstacles that would come in the next few years.
We found out we were expecting a baby girl, we were surprised and extremely happy, since doctors didn’t think that we could get pregnant without lots of help. The Lord just had bigger plans for us that no doctor could see! He blessed us with a little girl and her journey started out rough as well after being diagnosed at birth with TEF, her trachea and esophagus were not connected. After surgery and a 47 day NICU stay we got to bring her home and begin life as a family. Now we have a happy, loving and wild one year old.
I have yet to take her to a park because there isn’t a park that is accessible for Kevin and I don’t want her daddy missing the first time she gets to swing or slide or climb on a play ground. This new play ground is another blessing to us and we can’t wait to be able to go to it Together, as a family and have her daddy there to play with her and watch her enjoy life, because she is our life. She gives him smiles, love and is such a daddy’s girl.
This play ground is so much more than just somewhere for her to play, for us it is family time and getting to enjoy our child like other parents. We are so excited to be a part of this and can’t wait to be able to do things with our child that wouldn’t be possible without this play ground!
Thank you Miracle League and everyone who has donated to help. You will never know how much it will mean to see my husband and daughter interacting and playing together with no obstacles!
This is the story of the family of Jemorah Stinson who, the MLUC Facebook page states, were very excited when they learned of the group’s plans to build the playground.
“This playground is going to allow Jemorah to be able to interact with her sister and brother in a way she can’t on a regular playground,” Jemorah’s mother, Ronnell said.
And Ronnell is exactly right! Instead of having to sit in her wheelchair and watch others play, Jemorah will be able to play alongside of them. Jemorah is a twin and her brother, Jemo Jr., can’t wait to be able to ZipCruz side by side with his sister as they race from one end to the other. Jemo will cruise down on a disc seat while Jemorah will be in an assisted seat.
“Jemorah can’t walk yet so playing comfortably on a regular playground just isn’t an option” says Ronnell.
Since Jemorah was little, she enjoyed swinging but now that she has outgrown a baby swing seat, her family is excited that she will now have a larger assisted seat perfect for her. Jemorah’s older sister, Zarria, has been inspirational in Jemorah’s life, helping her on the Miracle League field as her buddy.
“I love how this family is so supportive of each other and provides their children with opportunities to have fun, be involved and enjoy life” says Miracle League of Union County Executive Director, Amy Austin.
Jemorah’s family shares that they can not wait to play and have fun together on this playground, giving Jemorah hope that she will be able to play and have fun like others do. And another really cool thing about this playground for the Stinson family is there will be a brick placed along the entrance with Jemorah’s name on it, from her family.
This is the story of the family of Noah Hendrix.
Noah Hendrix and his family are looking forward to having a playground where he can enjoy the entire space. Noah’s Nana says she thinks a Miracle League playground is a great idea because Noah enjoys going to parks and playgrounds but he can not enjoy a lot of things at the playgrounds we have now. As determined as Noah is now, there was a time in life, he was caught saying, “I can’t” do certain things. His Mama and Nana always tell him he can do anything he wants to do, he just has to put his mind to it. And The Miracle League Baseball volunteers and fans know for a fact just how determined he is. Noah has been playing ML ball since our inaugural season. He started out needing a lot of assistance from his “buddy” when at bat and hitting off of a tee. He quickly progressed to hitting a coach pitched ball!
Since he enjoyed playing ball so much, he decided to take up running too. One of his running coaches, Stephanie Kitchens had this to say about him: “Noah, or Easy as the Brat Pack calls him, is an inspiration. If he’s had a bad day you would never know it. He shows up ready to run with a smile on his face & prepared to beat everyone; doesn’t matter if it’s practice or a race, he’s determined to finish 1st. The Brat Pack loves Easy, if any of us doubt ourselves, we look to him to know that we can do the task at hand. That is what Easy does; inspires, encourages & makes life better to just know him. He is the true meaning of the Brat Pack’s motto — Some Can, Most Can’t — that’s because he chooses to overcome & do whatever he sets his mind to.”
Noah says he is really excited about being able to slide at the playground. He knows there will be other things he will enjoy but sliding has always been his favorite he has not been able to enjoy sliding on many playgrounds. Noah is excited that this is a going to be a playground for everybody so everyone can be together. He also says that everyday the weather is nice he plans on going.
This is the story of the family of Alex Garrett.
From Tami Garrett: This playground is something Union needs desperately for children & families with special needs. Until you have a special needs child, you truly don’t understand how all kids long to play and be able to do things on a playground at their level. Often special needs kids do not have the muscle strength needed to play on a regular playground safely. For instance, our Alex is amazing is so many ways, and it makes him & us so sad when he can’t use standard monkey bars or rock climbing walls that are typical of other playgrounds. This playground will help build up his self esteem & confidence, as it will for so many families affected with disabilities.
As a teacher in Union for 28 years so far, I have met so many kids & families who could benefit from this playground. Special needs kids deserve this playground. I can imagine their smiles now as they play on a playground adapted for their needs but also for all other children too so no one is left out!
And from her son, Alex, 10, who plays MLUC ball: “I bet it will be as much fun as Miracle League ballgames!! I’m all in!! I will get to play on it with Mary Ashton and Grayson (his sister & brother), and my friends. I can’t wait!!”
This is the story of the family of Elijah Cole.
Elijah is 5 years old and he loves going to the park to play but it is very difficult for him to play on a “normal” play ground. With all of is disabilities it is very hard for him to climb or even go down the slides. With the Miracle League Play ground he will be able to play and have fun. He won’t be looked at as having disabilities but he will be able to show off his abilites. I would not have to worry about him not being able to play. He will love the Zipkrooz. You won’t find that anywhere else.
We also love the fact that parents and other family members can interact with our child as he plays freely and with boundaries. We are very excited about the new Miracle League Playground and hope it is built soon so Elijah does not have to wait any longer to be a happy child on a playground like everybody else.
This is the story of the family of Michell Helton. It is told by Michelle herself.
Just the “brief” history of what got me to the physical challenges I face today. I was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer in my leg in 2001. It recurred 3 times over a 5 year period which eventually resulted in my left leg all the way to my hip being amputated which made a prosthesis a difficult alternative. For the most part, I choose to get around using crutches. It is one of the few things I can still have control over. However if I go shopping or have to go a long distance I do have to choose the wheelchair for those type situations.
Due to my health and personal circumstances I have never had children of my own. Well I guess I should clarify, I’ve never had 2 legged children of my own. My children have been of the 4 legged type, however I’ve always loved children and therefore I get to enjoy being “Aunt Elle.”
Before I became an aunt, I became a godmother at the age of 16 to Michael Cobb. Wherever I went, he went. I took him everywhere with me and enjoyed every moment. He is the one that gave me my nickname “Elle” because that’s what he could say and from that point forward that’s who I was to most of my friends and family.
Then (1997)came Alexis, and I became “Aunt Elle” to her. Again, I had her all the time with me in Charleston. I would take her to the beach, to the parks, downtown Charleston, shopping, our options were endless.
In January 2006 is when I lost my leg due to the cancer and in September of that year my nephew Ayden was born. Due to the physical challenges I now had, it wasn’t as easy to take him places and do the same things I had done with Michael and Alexis, so I had to create new things for us.
Fast forward to now, I am blessed to continue my role as “honorary” aunt to Sophia, Mason and Alliegh. Again, what I can do with them physically can often be a challenge which is why when I was informed of the possibilities that could lie ahead with the All Inclusive Playground I was intrigued and it gave me hope of the things I would be able to do with my babies just like I could do before I was faced with my physical challenges.
I will be honest, until everything was explained to me I didn’t even understand that the possibilities of this new playground could positively impact my life by making it possible and safer for me to be able to take “my babies” to a park to play. I’m truly excited and hope through education, fundraising events, and various other plans our entire community will learn all of the benefits and all of the “who’s” it can benefit and get on board to help raise the funds needed to make this dream a reality for our little town.
The Miracle League of Union County is currently working to raise $10,000 by July 31. If successful in doing so, it will receive $75,000 from the Timken Foundation. The Foundation previously allocated $75,000 to the MLUC for the construction and promised another $75,000 if the MLUC could raise the matching amount by July 31. The playground is projected to cost $350,000 to build and the second grant is crucial to the MLUC getting the required amount to pay for construction.
If you would like to help the MLUC make its goal of $10,000 by July 31 call 864-466-7879, contact an MLUC Board member, or visit The Miracle League of Union County Facebook page or website www.themiracleleagueofunioncounty.org.
The Miracle League has a PayPal account through its website. Persons wanting to make a donation can do so through that account.
This story courtesy of the Miracle League of Union County.