SOUTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Maddie’s Magical Playground is officially open in Southampton and was dedicated in honor of a young girl who lost her 10-month battle with brain cancer.
Madeline “Maddie” Schmidt was a young soccer star and cheerleader who was known for her kindness. She passed away on New Year’s Eve in 2022 after a 10-month battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a form of brain cancer, according to a news release from Magic for Maddie.
Maddie loved giving her all during soccer practices and games on Saturday mornings, as well as watching her brothers and cousins play baseball at Labrie Field in Southampton. That same field will now have Maddie’s Magical Playground, the first playground in Southampton that was built by community volunteers that is wheelchair accessible and is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“Although cancer is what took Maddie’s life, it is not her legacy,” said Nora Schmidt, Maddie’s mother. “While Maddie was battling cancer, we realized how important it is to have ADA-compliant options for children to play on. We want to be able to spread Maddie’s special sparkle to all children – regardless of whether they are in a wheelchair or not. This playground will help spread the joy that Maddie brought to our lives every day and we know that those children who play on and visit the playground will spread her sparkle in the months and years to come,” she said.
Maddie’s Magical Playground will be in Maddie’s favorite colors, purple and teal. It has a ramp from the parking lot to the playground, slides, benches, picnic tables, a surface-level playing area with panels along the equipment that kids can interact with, an accessible picnic table, and an accelerator swing, which is also called a “bird’s nest” that will be able to have kids and their parents swing together. There will also be a slide and a climbing wall.
The playground will officially open on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Labrie Field on Strong Road in Southampton. There will be cookies and hot chocolate for all the enjoy at the dedication ceremony. This is the same field where Maddie played soccer, and watched her brothers play baseball.
“Just hope that for years to come that children are coming here and having fun, seeing Maddie’s beautiful face on the sign, and just enjoying themselves. And remembering how fun and spunky she always was,” expressed Juliet Locke.
“This is the definition of love, and community, and support. It’s absolutely incredible and the turnout today was so inspiring, and our family is just forever grateful to be part of a community like this,” expressed Nora Schmidt.
The building of the new playground was Magic for Maddie committee member Juliet Locke’s idea and passion, an engineer for On Point Construction Services in Agawam. Locke has experience on playground projects and helped bring the one at Norris School to life.
Magic for Maddie Magic was created during the summer of 2022 to raise money for DIPG research and Maddie’s clinical DIPG trial at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. DIPG kills 90% of kids within 2 years of diagnosis, the median survival time is 11 months, and the overall survival rate is less than 1%.
The Southampton Parks Department, the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), and the Town of Southampton Selectboard approved support for the community build of Maddie’s Magical Playground back in May, and over a four-day period from October 30th through November 3, several community and family volunteers helped install the playground.
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