Hamilton boy’s selfless wish makes playground more inclusive for kids

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Grayson Combs??€™ wish results in accessible playground equipment being installed at Millikin Woods Park.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A large crowd turned out Saturday to watch Grayson Combs celebrate his birthday wish at Millikin Woods Park in Hamilton — a wheelchair accessible playground equipment that enables all children to have fun.

Combs and his family cut the ribbon to open the inclusion wheel, which is a merry-go-round that can spin disabled children in wheelchairs and able-bodied children at the same time. Grayson’s family worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make this wish come true.

“This is a unique wish,” said Korie Bednarczuk, the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s wish coordinator working with Grayson’s family. “Every wish is special, but this is extra special because it’s a selfless wish because it’s giving back to the community.”

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Bednarczuk said 80 percent of the wishes granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation are travel-related and added that she’s not sure if the area chapter that serves Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana ever had a wish like this one before.

“There are a lot of generous supporters, and that’s the reason this happens,” she said.

Grayson, who turned 10 on April 2, was diagnosed with a rare condition at 5 months old called Lissencephaly, a birth defect that causes brain abnormalities, severe developmental delays and seizures, according to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When diagnosed, he was given 2-to-5 years to live and has spent his life in a wheelchair, according to his mother Carol Combs.

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Eric Schmidt of Playground Equipment Services, which constructed the inclusive wheel at the park’s playground, said the amenity is very new and have become available for sale this year.

“It functions incredibly well,” Schmidt said. “It allows special needs and other children to play on it together.”

Schmidt said it was impressive that Grayson made the decision to have a piece of playground equipment installed that will last 20 or more years

“I think it’s awesome,” Schmidt said.

Steve Timmer, Hamilton Parks Conservancy’s executive director, called Saturday’s event was “wonderful.”

Timmer said the new amenity cost about $20,000.

“Grayson gave a selfless gift,” Timmer said. “This is what we’ve been moving toward over the past three years.”

He said the conservancy is planning to invest $30,000 this year for more Americans With Disabilities Act compliant amenities for the parks.

“Today is just a great way for Grayson to be able to give back to the community and start building that inclusiveness that we all hope,” said Carol Combs, Grayson’s mother. “It will give children of all abilities the opportunity to come and grow and play and just be a part of the community and learn about each other and discover like any other kid.”

There are nearly 230 children in Southern Ohio who are awaiting their wish, and Make-A-Wish relies on the financial support of the local community to grant wishes. For more information on ways to help, visit www.oki.wish.org, call 1-877-206-9474 and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @makeawishohkyin.

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