You probably remember Conner and Cayden Long. They were Sports Illustrated Kids' 2012 SportsKids of the Year. Their inspiring story of perseverance — the brothers participate in triathlons together, even though Cayden has cerebal palsy and is unable to walk or talk on his own — has touched kids and adults all over the country and across the Internet. (That includes Miami Heat star LeBron James.)
Last weekend, the Longs were honored again — with a playground in their hometown of White House, Tennessee. Roll Around the Park officially opened on April 12 and was donated by Miracle Recreation in recognition of everything Conner and Cayden have accomplished.
The state-of-the-art park was designed to give every kid (between the ages of 5-12) a chance to play — even if they're in a wheelchair or disabled. “Conner, Cayden and their friends and families are now able to play together,” said Mike Sutton, VP of Sales for Miracle Recreation. “Miracle is dedicated to creating an outstanding play environment for all children. We’re thrilled that White House will now be a destination for families throughout the region.”
Before the playground opened, Conner, Cayden, and their family had to travel more than an hour away to fins an accessible park. But now there's one right in their backyard. Even better, Conner helped design it. He was named Chair of Miracle's "Not So Bored of Directors," which oversaw the development of the park. (Other members of the Board, er Not So Bored, include former astronaut Terence "Tom" Henricks" and Olympic/Elite Development Team gymnast Katie Currier.) And Conner also named the park.
But more importantly, Conner and Cayden now have a playground they can both experience and enjoy.
“It means so much to have an area where Conner and Cayden can play together,” Conner and Cayden's mom, Jenny, said. “The playground represents the spirit that motivated the boys to participate in triathlons together: that all children are created equal.”
For more about the playground, check out a slideshow of photos from the opening of Roll Around the Park!
Photo: Vince Isner