By Charlotte Underwood
TOP PHOTO: Ann Ayers-Colvin playing the “heads or tails” game at Monday’s fundraiser dinner.
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – The county united together for the joint cause of providing an all inclusive playground for area children. The Caryville Cares Inclusive Playground project fundraiser dinner was held Monday evening at Hidden Spring Farm. According to organizers, the “sold out” event went “amazing”, despite needing to be postponed for two days due to the weekend winter storm.
“We are grateful for the outpouring of support from the community and hope to keep the momentum going. This is something to rally behind,” said project chairman Brandon Johnson.
The project is being driven forward by a committee of young people wanting to better their community.
“We’ve found a passion with this. Tell your families, tell your friends to give to this worthwhile cause,” Caryville Cares committee member Landyn Ford said.
Keynote speaker for the event Coastal Carolina Coach Jamey Chadwell could not attend due to the postponement. His mom Cindy Chadwell, who is a long time special education school teacher, stepped on stage with playground committee member Patrick Pebley to discuss the importance of the cause.
“These kids need to have this opportunity to play like other children. It’s important for kids to have a good team in place to succeed and this county should be proud of these young people ready to go forward and do such great things for their communities,” Cindy Chadwell said.
The playground will be located across from Shoneys in Caryville. Once completed, the $600,000 project will provide a specially designed playground and equipment for kids with disabilities.
According to statistics, Campbell County has a high rate of people with disabilities. The national average for people under age 65 with disabilities is eight percent, while Campbell County’s average is more than double that at 22 percent.
“There are children in this county who have never been on a swing or on a slide. We believe all children deserve the chance to play, regardless of ability level,” Johnson said.
Fundraising will continue for the project with a week long online auction running through next Tuesday by Ayers Auction. Auction items include a jersey and helmet signed by Coastal Carolina Football Coach Jamey Chadwell. Other items include a tire package at Eagle Pro Tires, boat rentals, mechanic tool set, a hand made cigar box guitar, local artworks, gift certificates and much more.
To bid on items, click the QR code below.
There is also a T-shirt sale going on to raise funds and donations of all sizes are welcome.
“No donation is too big or too small. This is something for the whole county to invest in,” Johnson said. He also wanted to say a huge thank you to all involved and to all who donated and sponsored the event.
“This has been incredible. I never thought Campbell County would rally behind this to this degree, and it’s just amazing to see the support and care for our kids and this project,” Johnson said.
For more information about supporting the playground with a donation, contact Johnson at 423.494.4894 or email BrandonJohnson1994@gmail.com. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/15/2022-6AM-PHOTOS COURTESY OF WLAF’S CHARLOTTE UNDERWOOD)