By Brett Milam
A 4-year-old in Batavia had his wish of a playset in his background granted on May 26 by the Kids Wish Network.
Jacob Raynor has a condition known as Chiari malformation, which he was diagnosed with at birth, and caused structural defects in which brain tissue extends into the spinal cord and into the part of the brain that controls balance.
Jacob also has Syringomyelia, a disorder in which a cyst forms on the spinal cord and can damage the spinal cord; it came as a complication with Chiari malformation. Symptoms from these conditions include headaches, muscle weakness, numbness in the arms, hands and legs, as well as body temperature issues.
Due to these conditions, Jacob has had a couple brain surgeries.
The Kids Wish Network, a national non-profit organization, has been granting wishes to children with life-threatening conditions since 1997.
Sam’s Club in Eastgate donated the Backyard Discovery Timber Swing Set, which features a 10-foot slide, an 8-foot slide, swings, a bridge, trapeze and a picnic area. Normally, such a swingset would retail for between $1,798 and $2,498.
Marcus Elliot, store manager, said this was the first time they’ve ever done a wish like this, but community outreach is something Sam’s Club likes to get into.
“I tell people this is the best part of my job,” Elliot said. “This is the first time I’ve seen it set up.”
Elliot said he was surprised how fast it was put up.
Lee, Jacob’s father, had to remove the fire pit where the playset was to go, mow down the grass as low he would go and then lay out mulch ahead of the playset’s construction.
“I tried to have it ready before they started working on it,” he said.
Then on May 21, Habitat Young Professionals, the local chapter arm of Habitat for Humanity, came and began construction on the swingset. By May 23, with the additional help of the Union Township Fire Department and the Union Township Professional Firefighters Association, the playset was completed.
May 26 was the reveal of the playset, with numerous family members, including Jacob’s parents, Melissa and Lee, present, and Elliot. In order to hide the playset from Jacob until then, the family put cardboard up on the backdoor and blocked off the windows so he couldn’t see what was in the backyard.
When Jacob saw the playset and climbed to the top, he told his dad that it’s like a house.
Lee said Jacob loves being outdoors and especially on playgrounds.
“He loves to be outside, I can’t ever get him in,” Lee said. “We were really surprised he didn’t ask to come out this week; we lucked out.”
A few years ago, the family was living in West Chester, but moved to Batavia and when they moved into their new home, that’s when Jacob was born.
Melissa said working with Kids Wish Network was wonderful.
“Everyone there was so nice and so helpful throughout the whole process. From starting the paperwork to having the actual wish-granted was about 8 months-to-a-year time frame, but well-worth the wait,” she said.
Melissa said Jacob’s conditions are lifelong battles and he will always deal with symptoms from them.
“But we are happy to report that his latest appointment with his neurologist and his most recent MRI were nothing but good news for Jacob,” she said. “We take one day at a time because we never know what symptoms and or pain will effect him if at all each day.”