FAIRFIELD, Ohio -- It was a place where he knew joy during his tragically short life.
If supporters are successful, the next playground addition at Fairfield’s Central Elementary will include a memorial to Walter “Superbubz” Herbert.
The plans were shared with the first grader in his final weeks of life, and he helped his friend — Central Elementary Principal Karrie Gallo — pick out the playground equipment the school would order should money become available.
Now the spirited boy who captured hearts and headlines with his courageous battle against cancer before succumbing in October is the inspiration for a fundraising effort — “Build It For Bubz” — that has seen donations pour in.
Donations can be made online here or mailed to Fairfield Central Elementary, 5054 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, Ohio 45014.
“I will never forget the days he rested in my office and he would help me go through mail and look at different school catalogs,” said Gallo, who became a close friend to Walter’s family through his struggle and remains so today.
“Whenever we talked about items to make the new Central (school) even cooler, he would light up, as if he knew that some of his suggestions would come true. I am incredibly honored that this was one of his happy places.
“Bubz picked out the items himself. Because he chose the items, it has really meant a lot to me and to everyone who knew him. And this project also means a lot to his family. He has two younger sisters, who will be attending Central for many years. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to think of him with a positive memory each day. It is also great for the family, because they could come to the playground anytime they want to feel his playful energy or even sit and think of him while they are having a picnic.”
The recently opened Central Elementary is one of three new school buildings for the 10,000-student Butler County district. There are a few pieces of playground equipment on the school campus but no swings — a favorite of Superbubz — or teeter-totters.
Gina Gentry-Fletcher, spokeswoman for Fairfield Schools, said “this fundraiser provides a source of healing for the community.”
“So many rallied around Superbubz during his short life,” she said. “We all felt a sense of pride as we witnessed our community come together to offer support to this little boy and his family. This is a positive way for the school to allow Superbubz’s legacy to live on.”
A recent fundraiser generated thousands of dollars toward making the boy’s dream playground a reality.
“At this time, we have almost $12,000 of our $15,000 goal,” Gallo said. “It is important to know that if we exceed our goal, the additional funds will not go to waste. We are hoping to also purchase a bench and a memorial plaque for the playground. Any additional funds will simply go towards fulfilling Bubz dream of having the best playground on Earth.”