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Miracle Recreation playground on Dover AFB helps heal children

Friday, July 6, 2012

A dedication ceremony was for the Fisher House Playground, June 18, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The playground located on the north end of the Fisher House was dedicated to the children of our fallen.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik)
DOVER, DEL. ---- Dover Air Force Base in Delaware serves as the point of return for all military service personnel who have given their lives in the service of our country. The site is where many families of the fallen begin their healing process.

To help ease the way for these families, a team of volunteers from across the United States recently installed a new commemorative playground donated by Miracle Recreation Equipment Company. Created to give children comfort when coping with the loss of a loved family member, the new playground offers a moment of solace in the midst of mourning.

"This playground marks one the most important contributions our company has ever made," said Dan Guthrie, executive vice president of PlayPower and president of PlayPower North America. "The area for families is a dignified, sacred and solemn space that quietly honors the men and women who have served so bravely.

A dedication ceremony was for the Fisher House Playground, June 18, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The playground located on the north end of the Fisher House was dedicated to the children of our fallen.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik)
"It's an honor to be part of this project," Guthrie said. "As the son of an Air Force captain, I was fortunate to have my father's influence for 25 years after his safe return. It is our hope this playground provides children with a place of healing during their visit to the Fisher House."

Founded in 2009, Friends of the Fallen is a nonprofit community based organization that supports the families of the fallen who travel to Dover Air force base to witness the dignified transfer of their loved ones. Fisher House, an 8,462 square foot facility, offers nine suites for visiting families and supports the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover.

Friends of the Fallen volunteers work on the campus to provide hospitality to the families.

An overview of the playgound.
Kim Landis, Friends of the Fallen president, sees many children come to Dover who are too young to understand what is happening. She saw a great need for a diversion for children staying at Fisher House and felt it was important tokeep the kids engaged in normalcy during their short stay.

"The original founders of the Friends of the Fallen had hoped to provide a playground for the children visiting the Fisher House," Landis said. "Now that all of those original members have moved on, we felt it was important to continue their legacy and do what we could to make sure the children had a playground at this facility.

"We can already see how helpful it is to some of the parents and grandparents to be able to see the children play," Landis continued. "You have to consider how many of these kids travel by plane combined with a two-hour car ride from the airport.They need the outdoor space to run and play."

The combination slide and rock wall at the Dover playground.
Fisher House and Friends of the Fallen teamed with Miracle Recreation to design a playground that fit their specific needs. The group selected a playground from the Tot's Choice line for its features that accommodate the wide range of ages among young visitors. The playground is designed for children ages 2 through 12. The playground is located in the back of the facility surrounded by a patio and garden.

Working with the organization was Charlie Walker, a Miracle representative serving the Delaware area associated with Liberty Parks and Playgrounds, Walker previously provided playground equipment at Dover Air Force base and was recommended to Landis for their excellent service and attention to detail.

Walker was instrumental in coordinating area companies to help with the construction process. As he recruited volunteers, the replies were unanimously positive.

"Everyone I spoke with was eager to help," said Walker. "It's one of those causes that's hard to say no to."

Support came readily from around the Delaware region as area businesses donated time and materials; along with Liberty Parks & Playgrounds, Inc., Heritage Concrete, Byler Builders, LLC, Safety Turf Inc., Atlantic Concrete Co., and Pioneer Materials collaborated on the construction.

"I have been to many grand openings for various playgrounds, but I can't remember going to a ceremony where the people were so appreciative," said Walker. "It was really special."

Founded in 1927, Miracle Recreation Equipment Company has grown to become one of the leading commercial playground equipment sources in the nation. The company, with its manufacturing facility in Monett, provides customized solutions for parks, schools, churches, communities and other large-scale projects designed for many children. More information is available at www.playpower.com.

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