Fundraising under way for Ben’s Red Swings upgrades

ben lede

In an effort to raise money for upgrades to Ben’s Red Swings at City Park, tiles and pickets are being sold.

Supporters can buy one of 250 Paint Your Own Tiles, for $50, or a personalized picket for $75. There are 100 available.

The tiles are like the original ones in the playground, which was enthusiastically built by about 4,000 dedicated volunteers 11 years ago. The new tiles will be on the outside walls of the new restrooms and protected from weather conditions, according to a family news release.

Chesapeake East Pottery will personalize the tiles, which will become a permanent part of the playground.

Pickets will line the accessibility ramp to the new restrooms and drinking fountain. One line of up to 17 characters and spaces can be engraved. See cfes.org/brs/ to order.

There are also plans to resurface landing areas at the park, and the public is asked to contribute. Donations can be made to the  Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore at cfes.org or mailed  to Community Foundation, Ben’s Red Swings, 1324 Belmont Ave No. 401, Salisbury, Md., 21804.

The park is named for little Ben Layton, who died when he was 4. He had been diagnosed with leukemia two years earlier.

After his death, his parents, Dr. Chris and Hendrika, made a commitment to upgrade the then-dilapidated play area at City Park, where Ben once played, as well as his brother and, years earlier, his father.

It was transformed into the now popular Ben’s Red Swings.

The color red was chosen because young Ben, knowing he was dying, said he hoped to have red angel wings in heaven.

New restrooms and a drinking fountain are being built at the playground this summer, at a cost of $80,000.

The Layton family began a foundation for upkeep of the playground and future renovations. Money from the foundation will be used to pay for the restrooms. The city will not fund it, but will provide in-kind labor.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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