DFW Kids Benefit From “Play Defeats Cancer Tour”
Every kid deserves a place to play.
And while cancer works its hardest to prevent that, the Roc Solid Foundation works just as hard to make sure children fighting cancer do have a custom playset in their backyard. The organization has surprised thousands of kids fighting cancer with such a playset in their “Play Defeats Cancer Tour” presented by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group.
The project involves gifting and building 30 custom playsets in 30 days to deserving families of kids fighting pediatric cancer throughout the U.S. Tour sponsors also include Kaulig Giving, Backyard Discovery and Richard Childress Racing.
The foundation made three stops recently in the Metroplex to build playsets for 2-year-old Logan Beatty of Arlington, who is fighting acute myeloid leukemia; Millie Spring of Irving, who turned 2 on May 7 and has medulloblastoma; and Ryan Nanaj, who turned 6 on May 9 and is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“When kids are diagnosed with cancer, one of the first things that is taken away is play. Treatment weakens their immune systems so they cannot play at public parks or be around other kids. A playset gives them a safe, germ-free place to play and just be a kid,” said Roc Solid Foundation spokesperson Abby Penich. “When kids are playing, they aren’t thinking about cancer and neither are their parents, which is why we believe that Play Defeats Cancer.”
A Positive Impact on Kids Fighting Cancer
The Roc Solid Foundation is located in Chesapeake, Va. Eric Newman, a pediatric cancer survivor, is the founder. He started the organization in 2009, to make a positive impact on kids fighting cancer.
“The best part of the build day was definitely the moment when Ryan and his brother looked at the playset. Even though they both knew that we were going to have a playset in our backyard, I don’t think any of them were expecting the playset to be as big, beautiful, and fun as it was,” said Frida Ninaj. “Ryan’s favorite part of the playset is definitely the slide where he throws his Hot wheels and monster trucks first, before sliding down the slide himself.
“What this means for us is that Ryan and his brother can have more fun while we’re enjoying the time spent in the backyard, especially during these pandemic times where we continue to have a pretty isolated lifestyle and don’t get to go to other public places as much.”
Swinging, Smiling, Laughing Together
Millie’s older sisters Lucy (10) and Sadie (7), along with their dad, Matt, said building the rock wall as a family was their favorite part of the day. Four-year-old sister Willa said playing on it was her favorite part.
“We had so much fun on the build day it’s hard to pick out our favorite part,” said mom Julie Springs. “We all agreed that Millie’s favorite part is the swing and going down the slide.”
To which Matt added, “I get to see my girls swinging, smiling and laughing.”
Because of COVID-19, Millie’s sisters could not come to the hospital to see her, much less play with her. Julie said coming to the parking lot and waving to her was as close as they could get.
Making Up For Lost Time
“This separation really made it difficult for everyone, especially the four sisters. They missed out on so much time together. Time that they should have spent playing and making memories together,” Julie said. “I think this playset will help them be able to make up some of the time they lost out on. They are on the playset as much as they can be. They’re playing together, swinging together, pretending to be Rapunzel stuck in her tower, serving pretend meals at the counter, laughing, smiling, and creating memories that will last forever. It brings tears to my eyes to watch them.
“This is what life should be like, this is what they should be doing – not worrying about cancer or not being separated from each other.”
Local community volunteers come together to build each set and surprise the kids. The foundation partners with over 80 children’s hospitals around the U.S. to spread the word to families. If a family wants to apply for a playset, all they have to do is go to the website rocsolidfoundation.org.
Logan had his first post-treatment appointment recently and is now in remission.
“Seeing how many people volunteered to make a difference in my baby’s life was incredible,” said Amanda Beatty. “The support from complete strangers was just so special.
“He likes the green and yellow see-saw-type swing that he’s too small to use right now,” she continued with a chuckle.
“He also adores the slide and opening and closing the door.
“This provides my immuno-compromised toddler with a safe space to play outside that we know is completely clean of other kids’ germs. We weren’t allowing him to play outside due to the risk presented by unknown contaminants.”