N.J. Family On Mission To Build Special Playing Complex For Special Needs Children

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey family is on a mission – raising money to make sure kids and families with special needs have a special place to play.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, Connor Minelli of Toms River just turned 6. But instead of getting presents for his birthday, he asked his friends to give money to his buddy, Gavin Kane.

“So I could play with him, and all Toms River kids could come to Field of Dreams and play,” said Connor, a kindergartner.

Gavin’s parents, Christian and Mary Kane, are on a mission to raise enough money to build a complex to help children and adults with special needs in Monmouth and Ocean counties – the Toms River Field of Dreams.

Gavin was in a major car accident at just 19 months old and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

“We were hit by a beer truck, and basically, that was taken away from him,” Christian Kane said.

Gavin’s home is completely outfitted to meet his needs, but there is no place for him to go and socialize with his friends.

“He has friends that are special needs. He has friends that are typical children. It’s going to be a great place for all of them to get together and open everybody’s eyes,” Mary Kane said.

Toms River Township donated the land behind the police station for the inclusive playground. The vision is a baseball field, basketball courts, miniature golf, a walking path and more – all with rubberized wood flooring for wheelchair accessibility.

Danielle Dapuzzo and her wheelchair-bound daughter, Serafina, know how great a need there is for such spaces.

“There is no other option,” Dapuzzo said.

It will also be place for parents.

“I want a place where I can sit and talk to other caregivers that know exactly what I’m going through,” Mary Kane said.

The Kane family hopes to raise $200,000 by the end of the summer. The Pine Belt Arena was donated as a space to host the event.

“If we can get someone to come in and donate their time for a day, we will probably be able to raise about $100,000 to $150,000,” Christian Kane said.

The project is expected to cost $1.5 million to build. For information on how you can help, click here.

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