Mason's Mission on Time Warner Cable News - October 2016
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For some children with disabilities, doing everyday things some take for granted can be a challenge. One family in Pendleton says something as simple as playing outside is difficult for their two sons. They tell Mike Arena they're spearheading a project they believe will change that for them and other kids in the area.
PENDLETON, N.Y. -- Jason and Jennifer Evchich say when their two sons, three-year-old Mason and two-year-old Matthew, were born they knew fairly quickly something wasn't right.
"We noticed five or six months that there was something developmentally wrong with him, we as parents we didn't really want to face that fact," Jason Evchich said.
Both Mason and Matthew were born with undiagnosed leukodystrophy, a genetic disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
"It prohibits them from having sensory, nerves and signals go to the rest of the body which prohibits them from walking correctly, talking, as you can see holding up the head," Jason said.
Despite their handicap, the brothers love to spend time outside, but the Evchich family soon realized there wasn't a handicap-friendly playground in their area. They decided to take matters into their own hands and build their own.
"Every piece of equipment you're going to see is going to be something that is designated for every single child. Everything that can be done by someone who is not handicapped can be done by someone who is," Jason said.
The town is on board with a plan to build the playground in the town park. Parkitecs Incorporated designed the playground and it will cost an estimated $450,000 to complete. It's a price-tag that seemed like an uphill battle for the Evchichs until they received an email from State Sen. Rob Ortt. Evchich had reached out to Ortt for support and he responded by securing a $150,000 grant for the project.
"It's really a longtime overdue it's one of those ideas that comes up and you go, 'Yeah why isn't there a playground?'" said Ortt.
Now the project is nearly halfway funded with more than $200,000 committed by grants and private donors. The Evchichs are confident they will reach their goal, and through doing that, help unite the community.
"To have these young children start off at a young age playing together and say, 'Hey he may be different, but I love him anyway, he's my friend I met him here and I've been playing with him and we've met and done things outside of this playground.' That is the goal," Jason said.
They hope Mason and Matthew will have a place to play by the beginning of next summer. The Mason's Mission Foundation is still accepting donations. To donate contact the foundation or click here.