MASON, Ohio -- Jeff Tavella’s 16-year-old son uses a wheelchair, but Tavella has always made sure he’s included.
“We’d go to parks and I’m constantly lifting him up the stairs to make sure he can be involved,” Tavella said.
But soon, a park for people with all abilities would give Tavella’s son the freedom to play on his own.
Mason City Schools raised over $20,000 Saturday at a wheelchair basketball game to put toward Common Ground, a playground with ramps and equipment adapted to accommodate children with physical disabilities.
Over $20K raised by @comets4cg for @imaginemason inclusive playground! Thank you @mhssibs, teachers & admin for amazing night showcasing how #MasonShines! pic.twitter.com/QJNkaFXZzi
— Mason City Schools (@MasonSchools) January 27, 2018
"To stand back and watch these kids interact with their friends, there’s no words,” Tavella said.
The game, put on by Mason High School students, matched up Mason school teachers against the Cincinnati Royals, a professional wheelchair team.
Delaney Turner said a drive to serve others inspired her to help organize the event.
“I’ve always had a passion for working with people with disabilities,” Turner said. “They’ve given me so much joy in my lifetime. I want to give back and serve them.”
In June, Mason City Council members and Deerfield Township trustees pledged $400,000 in matching funds to support the playground. The city will provide $300,000 in matching funds for the foundation; the township will offer $100,000.
Common Ground playground is slated for construction just south of the U.S. 42 and Snider Road intersection.