Kendyl and Friends Foundation is a 501c3, non-profit organization for special needs/disabled children and adults fighting to live day to day with their disabilities.
At three weeks of age, my sweet Kendyl contracted meningitis. This virus caused several hundred thousand micro-mini strokes. Kendyl was left with partial blindness in both eyes and seven brain tumors. In addition to that Kendyl suffered countless seizures, which she still experiences even now. Kendyl is non-verbal and permanently confined to a wheel chair. Despite her many disabilities, Kendyl has always participated in regular activities with all her peers. Every year, Kendyl’s classes went on a field trip to our local park. When Kendyl was younger (and smaller) I had to get her out of her wheelchair (which she calls a motorcycle) and carry her through the playgrounds, allowing her to participate on all the equipment. However, when Kendyl doubled her weight after her g-tube insertion, I was physically unable to pick her up and carry her anymore. While watching her cry, not understanding why she could not participate, I took Kendyl, and a couple of her friends, on a walk around the track that goes around the park. About half way through our walk, I turned around and looked around the park. I realized there is nothing for Kendyl, or other children like her, to do independently anywhere in our area. I concluded at that moment that I was going to build a fully, inclusive-accessible playground.
I went home and immediately started working on the design for what I thought would benefit children of all abilities. I approached the Park Board, City Council, and County Magistrates and all were very supportive of the project. After receiving their approval, I, along with a group of supportive friends, began fundraising to make this dream a reality. There were many fund raisers and sleepless nights, but after only five-months and twenty-two days, we successful raised the $350,000.00 to build what now stands as Kendyl and Friends Playground: Mercer County Campus, located at Anderson Dean Community Park in Harrodsburg, KY.
When this project was complete, I and our team wanted to continue the work we started with Kendyl and Friends Playground. With that in mind I founded Kendyl and Friends Foundation to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of special needs/disabled children and adults in our community and the surrounding area. The Kendyl and Friends Foundation, INC is a 501C3 non-profit organization with the goal to service the special needs community. To date, The Kendyl and Friends Foundation has raised and distributed over 1.3 million dollars to assist special needs/disabled children. Since its founding, The Kendyl and Friends Foundation has built a total of five fully inclusive playgrounds in throughout Kentucky.
In 2019, The Kendyl and Friends Foundation, INC has several new upcoming projects. Our hope is to keep building fully inclusive playgrounds across the entire state of Kentucky and beyond.
Beginning in March 2018 my husband and I, with the help of some state politicians, began to push Kendyl’s Bill: a bill that will, eventually, require all new playgrounds built in the state of Kentucky to include at least a wheel chair swing so that children of all ages and abilities are able to play. In the 2018 session a resolution was passed in the KY State House, sponsored by State Representative Kim King, and in the KY State Senate, sponsored by State Senator Tom Buford. This resolution strongly encourages the inclusion of wheel chair swings in new playgrounds. The hope is this will become a law in the state of Kentucky, which would require such inclusion. As of right now, the bill is still in the process of being written and passed, but we hope this will be completed soon.