Fund raising underway for Hadley's Park
Feb. 12, 1997

by Janet Rathner


Staff Writer

All Shelley Kramm of Potomac wanted to do was to take her daughter to the park.

But Hadley, 5, is physically disabled and in a wheelchair -- a rough combination when facing wood chips and traditional playground equipment made for able-bodied kids. Hadley's physical condition is a result of complications following her premature birth.

"If you're in a wheelchair you just sit there. We'd pick her up and carry her from thing to thing," Kramm said. "I wanted to go past that."

Kramm's wish for her daughter to experience what other children have. That is to play with peers and share in the fun. This wish included seeing her two daughters play together -- Hadley and able-bodied Sarah, 8.

"The childhoods of special needs children are so different from Sarah and her friends," said Kramm. "They're filled with doctor appointments, therapists and emergency room visits rather than ballet. There's nothing happy for them to focus on."

But fun is on the horizon. It's scheduled to arrive next year at Potomac's Falls Road Park in the form of top-of-the-line accessible play equipment.

It includes a castle, a frontier village, and a pirate ship. Recreation officials say the equipment is enjoyable for able-bodied youngsters as well as those with special needs. It will also encourage interaction between the groups, and it's all happening due to Kramm's determination for her daughter to have a normal, happy childhood.

Kramm brought her dream of taking Hadley to the park as well as an idea on how to accomplish it to the attention of the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission. With a background in interior design and landscape architecture, Kramm designed what she calls "the Mercedes of parks." She also set up a non-profit organization, "Hadley's Park Inc.," for the purpose of raising the $500,000 necessary to make her dream a reality.

The Park and Planning Commission agreed and approved Hadley's Park.

"She contacted me last summer and I gave her some equipment pamphlets," Ellen Masciocchi, access planner for the commission, said. "We were skeptical at first. We don't have everybody just giving us a $500,000 playground. No one seems daunted by this raising of $500,000."

"Hadley's Park, Inc.," has some fund-raisers in the works. The first is Valentine's Day when the organization will begin selling $50 personalized bricks to be used to line the park's walkway. Scheduled for later in the year is a 5K (3.1 miles) race featuring a run/walk course for special needs participants. And, a silent auction is planned for October.

So far, there's only been one real surprise as work begins in earnest for Hadley's Park.

That was the Park and Planning Commission's decision to create Kramm's dream at the Falls Road Park. Located at Falls Road and Falls Chapel Way, the 22-acre facility is within shouting distance of the Kramm family home.

Masciocchi confirmed the coincidence. "It was an accident. We needed something flat and not developed. It's hard to find," she said. Once the proposed site for a Montgomery County public school, Falls Road Park is now home to several athletic fields. They will not be disturbed by the 3/4-acre creation of Hadley's Park.In addition to the theme play equipment, Hadley's Park will have swings, tables, benches and a wildflower garden. Signs directing visitors to the various offerings will be written in English and Braille. Everything sits on a wheelchair-friendly foundation of rubber and cement as opposed to wood chips.

For additional information on Hadley's Park call: 301-424-2112. Or write: Hadley's Park, Inc.,12801 Huntsman Way, Potomac, Md., 20854.