Ryan Grey PlaygroundRyan Gray was born in Lawrence in 1973 with an inoperable brain tumor, which limited him physically but not intellectually.  Noticed by KU basketball coach, Larry Brown, Ryan became an official ball boy for the KU team and its unofficial  number one fan and good luck charm, especially during the winning 1988 season.

Ryan died in 1990, and in 1993 a playground, named for him, was created  at Hilltop School, which was accessible to children with mobility disabilities, the first such in Kansas.

Now the  playground needs to be rejuvenated and a steering committee has been formed to purchase new equipment, increase accessibility even more and enhance options for exercise and health.

Dana Lattin, one of the steering committee chairs, told Central Rotarians on May 11 that the committee’s goal is to raise $260,000. The Lawrence school district will contribute part of the money and fund-raising efforts are under-way for the rest.

Dana Lattin, one of the steering committee chairs, told Central Rotarians on May 11 that the committee’s goal is to raise $260,000. The Lawrence school district will contribute part of the money and fund-raising efforts are under-way for the rest.

Changes to the playground will include a circular design and engaging play structures so children can play together. Signs and panels will include directions in Braille.  Currently, the pavement is buckling after years of use and needs to be replaced.

“We want to provide an opportunity for all youth and families to use the playground,” Lattin said.  “We want to re-engage the Lawrence/Douglas county community and increase playground usage,” she said.

For more information, or to contribute contact:  Dana Lattin, danalattin@gmail.com or Janel Leitch at janelleitch@gmail.com.