Inspired by an arson last November that destroyed a handicap accessible playground at Alcott Park, a local foundation is offering up to $32,500 to the Buffalo Grove Park District to upgrade the park with more handicap accessible play equipment.
Four 14-year-olds, two boys and two girls from Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, were charged with setting the fire that caused more than $80,000 in damage. While insurance covered the loss, the fire inspired the Lexi Kazian Foundation -- Helping From Heaven to express interest in helping to restore the playground, the park district said in a news release Wednesday.
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The foundation is dedicated to helping improve the comfort and quality of life of children with special needs by providing specialized equipment and services, and by helping fund development of handicap accessible parks. Because the destroyed playground was specifically designed to be usable by children with special needs, the foundation wanted to get involved.
In January, park district officials met with representatives from the foundation and developed a plan to redevelop the north end of the park, which was unaffected by the fire, but had playground equipment that was not accessible for children with special needs.
Removing the old equipment and wood chips, installing four new accessible apparatuses, and installing a rubberized surface that makes the playground safer and more easily maneuvered in a wheelchair, or using a walker or crutches will cost about $60,000.
"We believe that every child, regardless of their physical abilities, should have the same opportunity to enjoy the playground as all the other children," Kristy Kazian, co-president of Helping From Heaven and Lexi's mom, said in the news release.
Kristy Kazian said she was raised in Buffalo Grove and has many childhood memories of playing in the park. "We loved bringing our daughter, Lexi, to the park. It was cherished family time for us and a welcome break from the daily therapy schedules."
Helping From Heaven received an anonymous $17,500 donation for the benefit of the Alcott Park project. The foundation will also match any community donations made toward the park restoration, up to $7,500, potentially bringing the Helping From Heaven contribution to $32,500.
The foundation will present a check to the Buffalo Grove Park District board at 7 p.m. Monday, May 23, at the Alcott Center, 530 Bernard Drive.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the foundation for Alcott Park should call Jim Greco of Helping From Heaven at (847) 624-LEXI (5394).
The foundation was founded in 2005 by Kris and Kristy Kazian in honor of Lexi, who was born with severe brain damage in August 2002 and died in November 2004. More information about The Lexi Kazian Foundation -- Helping From Heaven is at helpingfromheaven.org.