The Belmont High School Class of ’92 raised $1,000 at its 20th Reunion to help rebuild Joey’s Park – a playground built 24 years ago in honor of their classmate Joey O’Donnell, who died from cystic fibrosis when he was just 12 years old.
The park has deteriorated over the years, and plans are underway to take down the aging structure and build a new one in a community barn-raising tentatively scheduled for this October.
“It was a spontaneous idea several of us came up with,” said Andrew Plunkett in a press release from the Friends of Joey’s Park. Plunkett was close with Joey. “We knew the Friends of Joey’s Park were raising money for a replacement playground and we figured this would be a great way to help and honor Joey.”
The reunion was held last November, according to the release, and some of the attendees had come up with the idea to build the original park after Joey’s death.
“We are thrilled that so many of Joey’s classmates are supporting our efforts to preserve this community treasure,” said Friends of Joey’s Park Co-Chair Diane Miller in the release. “Our goal is to make sure that Joey’s legacy continues to delight local children for generations to come.”
The original playground was built by hundreds of townspeople – including Mitt Romney, who has lived in Belmont for years – in a big barn-raising in 1989, three years after Joey’s death.
Joey was a popular little boy, and his death hit Belmont hard. Hundreds of people turned out for his funeral, and after his death, the town held walks and fundraisers to finance the first playground.
“Many of us were there for the first community build and some of us now have children who play at Joey’s Park,” said Plunkett in the release. “Our class has a special attachment to the park and it’s great to know that Joey’s legacy is going to live on.”
Donations can be made here.
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org