Every day, the world is changed by angels. All different kinds of angels, some we see, some we may not, some that leave little reminders, and some that remind us what living life is all about. As a Mom, we feel so blessed to call many of these angels, our children; the angels that put our lives in perspective, the angels that teach us kindness, patience, love. The angels that test us on some days and melt our hearts another. We never know reasons of why our life takes us where it does, but what we do know is our children, earths angels, are our personal trainers that complete us & assist us to be everything as moms, that we were meant to be.
Thank you Mrs. Runte for your time to share your story & Mayor Steve Olson for going above and beyond...
When I met Mrs. Shelley Runte, I believe she was an angel herself and had the love, patience, determination, and kindness that her beautiful daughter, Kayla, had as well. When Kayla was born, she stopped breathing resulting in some brain damage once breath quickly returned. Six months later, Kayla was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Shelley knew her Kayla would not have the same abilities as other children. Kayla may not have had the same abilities as others her age, but as a student at Ben Franklin Elementary, she had every opportunity to be a part of the community as any child there. These students were excited to be with her, to learn about her, help her, not judge in anyway and most of all consider her their friend. Kayla's silent expressions of sparkling blue eyes, a beautiful smile and a heart shining inside and out is what made these students want to be a part of her life. A smile says a thousand words, and as Kayla was unable to verbally communicate with these caring friends, her non-verbals made her friends excited to be with Kayla and share her life together. Her best friend, Jack, at such a young age, wanted to spend time and read with her every chance he had. He still thinks of Kayla as his very special friend.
In August of 2012, at 8 yrs. old, Kayla earned her angel wings into heaven and the unimaginable turned Shelley’s physical world upside down. Shelley and her family attended a 'bench dedication' in Kayla’s name to be remembered by all those that loved her so much from her Elementary School. At this dedication is when Shelley saw a vision that only a determined mother can put into action four months later, after her daughter’s death, to keep Kayla's memory alive.
Mayor Steve, with The City of Franklin, saw the vision with Shelley. This power duo brought together an entire community, impacting lives of all abilities for years to come and remembering Kayla’s strength, love and courage through it all. Kayla's Krew was now in full effect.
What started at Ben Franklin Elementary that day at Kayla’s Bench Dedication was the spread of Kayla’s love and joy to her very own playground with all ability access for children to enjoy what may have been the impossible at other parks. A simple swing on the swings, sliding down a slide that a child may have been unable to experience, or even a moment to take in the fresh air with a beautiful breezy ride on the merry-go-round. The entire world is represented at this park as well as the entire Franklin Community. A Wheelchair Swing from Australia, a Stainless Steel slide from Germany, a Merry Go Round that can fit two wheelchairs and a couple friends from Europe and people donating from all across the country as far as Hawaii. Shelley brought hands together from all across the world, keeping her beautiful daughters spirit alive.
Kayla’s Krew is made up of Kayla’s very own friends from school and over 2000 more helping hands that embraced her life and memory with all their hearts. Kayla’s 5th grade class comes to the park to clean and keep “tidey” for others to enjoy. The high school students in her community take part each year building the engraved pickets that outline the enclosed park. These names are continually growing with monetary donations made. Family names and local organizations are represented everywhere around this park as well as many of our favorite Dr. Seuss quotes that we all love (maybe even feel like a kid again!). Pictures from friends were created to encourage one another and share the many memories of Kayla herself with notes and color photos. This park offers so much to so many that every family should experience it together.
|Mrs. Runte with her crew!|
School may have started but the beautiful weather is still here! Please take the time to visit this amazing, magical place. Shelley, Mayor Steve, and Kayla’s Krew made no excuse and overcame every “building” obstacle to make this vision come true. Even when the park was vandalized during construction, Shelley still put her huge heart forward expressing her forgiveness to the vandals during a television interview, and inviting them to come back and use their creative energy towards a more productive goal and mission with the community. WOW!
Thank you so much Mayor Steve and Ms. Shelley and Kayla’s Krew for taking the time to share this beautiful place with our family and interviewing with us to share Kayla’s Legacy with others!
So what are YOU waiting for? Get out there, enjoy the beauty of the day & have the Kayla’s Playground Experience with you child that will last a lifetime! We know our sweet friend, Hudson, loved every bit of it with his friends! Learn more about Kayla’s Story and have Shelley talk with your group, school and /or organization about children with different abilities. Visit the following websites to make a donation or schedule your talk with Shelley today!