AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – One Belchertown mom is working to raise funds to build a one of a kind playground here in western Massachusetts.
Jessica Martins was wheelchair bound and died from a nervous system disorder after graduating Belchertown High School in 2009.
The UMass Men’s Basketball team helped kids develop their skills at BHS Monday night, to raise money for Jessica’s Boundless playground.
UMass Basketball Head Coach Derek Kellogg told 22News, “It’s something I had not heard of too often and had only seen a few times in my life. And for them to be doing that right here in Belchertown, down the road from where our team plays and operates, it’s pretty special.”
Jessica’s Boundless Playground is being built outside the Chestnut Hill Community School.When it’s done, it’ll be the only 100% accessible playground in western Massachusetts, and all of New England.
The playground is designed so children and adults of all abilities will have a place to have fun without barriers. 50 kids helped raise 21-hundred dollars for the cause Monday night.
Kaylee Lyman of Ludlow said, “I’ve never gotten to see them in person unless I was at the games, so I hope they do this again so I can meet the players again.”
For many, it wasn’t just the fun on the court, but the hopes of turning the dream of the boundless playground into a reality.
“My cousin has down syndrome, so I thought I would want to help out because I could bring my cousin to the playground and I know she’d have a lot of fun,” said Alexandra Holcomb of Belchertown.
Monday night’s event brings Jessica’s mom, Vicky Martins-Auffrey, one step closer to honoring her daughter’s memory with a lasting tribute in her name.
To learn how to make a donation, visit TeamJessicaOnline.com.
Jessica Martins, a Belchertown daughter who lived with Rett Syndrome, succumbed to complications of the H1N1 virus in October, 2009 at the age of 19. Jessica lived a full, boundless life in spite of being confined to a wheelchair. One way we are remembering Jessica is by building a boundless playground in her honor.
JBP will be the only 100% all-inclusive playground in the area. It will be a multi-generational activity structure that engages people of all ages and abilities and designed so that disabled citizens and the elderly can enjoy along with everyone else. Our playground will also allow wounded veterans in long-term rehab to experience the healing power and simple joy of playing with their own children.
The playground will cost upwards of $400,000 to build. Team Jessica has hosted several fundraising events over the past few years and the effort has raised $207,555, including two Community Preservation Act grants from the Town of Belchertown totaling $100,000 and the Beveridge Family Foundation grant of $40,000.