"We felt this would just be the perfect fit for Paducah and for Oakleigh's playground," Joelle Long said. She and her husband lost Oakleigh at 2 months old.
The Longs are working with Hendron Lone Oak Elementary School to expand their current playground. Their goal is to give kids a newer and bigger place to play in memory of their daughter.
"Losing your baby is awful, and I thought this way...having other mothers and their babies included, it will bring positive energy to the playground and help us connect," Joelle said.
All the students helped plant the oak tree that will eventually tie both playgrounds together. "This is a great day for us not only to teach the kids about Earth Day and the importance of Earth Day," Principal Jon Reid said, "But just to show them that our community partners are important and vital to the life of our school."
Andy the armadillo with Texas Roadhouse, the Paducah Bank WOW wagon, the Hendron Lone Oak Elementary School family, and other families rooted together in loss celebrated life together on Earth Day.
"Just because I lost her, I don't want that to go away... so we want everyone to come and enjoy Oakleigh's playground," Joelle said.
The oak tree will eventually grow to be 50 feet wide and 80 feet tall. Its roots won't be fully buried until after the weekend, so any parents who still want to add their child's name have some time. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The playground is still about $3,000 away from becoming a reality, but the Longs say they hope to start the building process by the end of summer. To donate to the playground, contact email@example.com.
100 Television Lane
Paducah, KY 42003