Boy raises funds to build playground for kids with disabilities in Waconia, Minn.
WACONIA, Minn. (FOX 9) - A fundraising effort is underway in Waconia to build an inclusive playground. And the fearless leader is a ten-year-old boy with quite a story to tell.
The playground at Waterford Park was scheduled to get a makeover in four years but, instead, it will be transformed into a wonderland for children with disabilities.
"He is very outgoing," Curtis Larson says of his son Quinn. "He loves people. He loves playing with people."
Playing Connect Four is one of Quinn Larson's favorite activities but soon connecting with other kids his age on a playground may no longer be out of reach.
"To be able to have a playground where he is safe to walk around," adds Curtis. "The chips on most playgrounds he would trip on."
Quinn suffered a traumatic brain injury five years ago when he fell through a screen on a second-story window onto a concrete patio below. Even though he made a miraculous recovery, he came down with meningitis a few months later and lost the ability to speak, hear and even for short time see.
Curtis adds, "He doesn't have the same abilities he did right before he turned 5, but he has a lot more than we thought he was going to have."
Instead of going to Disney World with a $5,000 check from Make-A-Wish, Quinn and his family donated it to the City of Waconia to buy a special slide that wouldn't short circuit the cochlear implants that help him hear.
That idea has since snowballed into a plan to build an inclusive playground complete with a special merry-go-round, swings, and 18-foot tall tower with a ramp inside for all children with disabilities in their community.
Waconia City Administrator Susan Arntz says, "By being able to work towards this project, we're able to resolve a lot of the accessibility issues on just outdoor play and fun."
The city hopes to build the playground by 2023 but Quinn's family says the sooner the better. "It's amazing people want to help Quinn but what makes it even better is that they know there's real need and there are other kids who are really going to enjoy it."
The city started a GoFundMe page to raise $400,000 of the $650,000 needed to pay for the inclusive playground. Volunteers are holding a golf scramble next month to raise money for the project.