'Playground of Love' built in memory of Madison County infant
LONDON, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- A London family who lost their baby is channeling their grief into a real positive for their town.
What started as a way to help with funeral expenses has blossomed into an extensive makeover for the venerable Cowling Park. It ensures all children have a place to play with other kids.
Last year, 7-month-old Noah Hagemeier died at the home of his babysitter. A friend's GoFundMe page, set up to help with funeral expenses, raised more money than needed. So, Noah's parents, Jen and Dan Hagemeier, approached the City of London with the idea of building a memorial playground in Noah's name.
They wanted it to be 'all-access' because, as Jen Hagemeier says, "in our family, it's not really a playground unless everybody can play on it."
The Hagemeiers have two other boys, Jack and Fin. Jack has cerebral palsy. Jen had always imagined him playing with both brothers and wanted a playground that could accommodate that.
In June, a new playground structure, with extensive ramp access was installed and is now the centerpiece of a remodeling in other areas of the park. It's part of a five-phase project that's already seen a new path built and painting touch-ups to other play structures and the park gazebo. The other phases will be completed as money is raised.
"The community had really gotten behind the effort," said City of London spokesperson Amy Reed.
Jen Hagemeier is thrilled with what's been built so far.
"I hope it allows all brothers and sisters, like Jack and Fin, to play. Noah should have been there. He should have been able to play with them and I like the idea that other kids, who wouldn't have a place to play together, will have one in his memory.
It's access for all, in the memory of one.