Bedford County volunteers helped build structure

Bedford County volunteers helped build structure

Getting on a swing and riding back and forth with the ground getting farther away and then coming back is one of the most exciting things for a child to do.

Climbing a swing set and cruising down a slide are two other activities that a child relishes in. These pastimes now are possible for a young boy because of the generosity of a national organization and local volunteers.

Weston “Wes” Jeffries of Wellersberg was born with Down syndrome and with atrioventricular (AV) canal defect, a combination of several heart problems that causes a large defect in the center of his heart. He had a rough start — Wes underwent open heart surgery and stomach surgeries before his first birthday.

Now 6 years old, Wes is a loving, fun, carefree boy. His parents wanted to do something special for him, the youngest of seven children, for all that he has endured. They applied to Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity that grants wishes for kids with life-threatening illnesses.

Kids Wish Network conducted interviews to get a better understanding of Wes. The organization quickly learned how much he enjoys playing outside and on swing sets.

“We always interview parents after they apply, to talk about their wish and the specific needs their child may benefit from most. We interviewed his mom and his speech therapist and found he would benefit from something outdoors that he could use on multiple occasions. The backyard is a good size for a nice playground, so we thought the best thing to send him would be a brand new playground for his backyard,” said Kimberly Kreiner, Kids Wish Network wish coordinator.

When it was determined that Wes would receive a playset of his own to enjoy at his leisure, Kids Wish Network purchased an enormous Gorilla wooden play structure using a grant from Lavale Walmart Store No. 2027.

“I was excited, but Wes didn’t really understand until it was here. When they were putting it together, he tried to get on everything — he was so excited. He saw the tunnel slide and tried to climb through the structure,” said Margie Jeffries, Wes’ mother.

The people who helped put together the massive structure were a group of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Bedford County.

“There were about 15 people and thousands of pieces. The instructions said it would take two or more people 16-20 hours to get it done, but they finished that day,” Margie said.

She said her children got involved, and she is grateful the volunteers spent their day helping her family.

“I’m so thankful. They didn’t have to help, but they did and were all so friendly and worked hard to get it done for him,” Margie said.

In addition to the volunteers, the Jeffries’ local Lowes store also helped with the endeavor.

“The Lavale Lowes donated 136 bags of mulch,” Kreiner said.

The local Subway donated sandwiches to feed the volunteers.

Wes’ new playset is full of activities that include slides, swings, a climbing tower and a clatter bridge. It’s big and strong for a resilient little boy.

Margie said, “We could get him a playset, but one this nice was not in our budget with seven kids. This is something really nice that he will enjoy for years. It’s sturdy and well built. I’m so happy for him.”

The biggest champions of Wes are his older siblings who are enjoying the special times they are having together with him on his new playset.

“Wes loves to get up on the fort and sit on top of the slide and push his siblings down. They’re all close anyhow, but this is something else they get to do together for bonding time. They like to get on there and see him happy; they take care of him,” Margie said.

The Jeffries family is grateful to see Wes enjoying himself on his new playground. Margie and her husband are grateful to all who made this dream come true for Wes.

“I’m just so happy Kids Wish Network did this for us. And Habitat (for Humanity) was so happy and friendly,” Margie said. “It put my faith back into the good that’s out there. They all came together for this little guy. He’s just a happy little man and he deserves something real nice like this.”