By Richie Ramos

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Efforts are being made to bring an accessible merry-go-round to Southside Park in Sacramento.

The merry-go-round at the park currently sits empty, but that wasn’t always the case.

Mark Laver’s son, Jonnie, was one of many kids who enjoyed the Sacramento park’s main attraction. He was even part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony back in 2005 when the playground first opened.

“We had a great caregiver, Bridget, and she would hold him on her lap, and he would spin around,” Laver said.

As a young child, Jonnie was diagnosed with meningitis and became reliant on a wheelchair. Sadly, last year, Jonnie died at the young age of 20.

“He was very brave,” Laver said. “He survived a lot longer than we thought.

Losing a child is never easy, but for Jonnie’s family, honoring him in a special way brings comfort. That’s why they launched a campaign to restore the one thing Jonnie loved most.

“I decided to initiate and lead an effort to replace it,” Laver said. “I didn’t really care about the cost, how it’d get done, I just needed it done.”

“Jonnie and Friends Reach For The Stars” is the fundraising effort Laver spearheaded to raise money to get the merry-go-round back up and running.

“I just figured that if a community person could help engage and make the park more enriching, that was my goal to do,” he said.

The family’s efforts don’t end there. Jonnie’s father, who also spends time helping keep the fully accessible playground clean, hopes to also add more attractions and restore other structures at the downtown playground.

“I’m trying to bring in schools to have field trips here to just promote inclusion,” he said.

Through this campaign, kids will be enriched and Jonnie’s legacy will live on.

For more information, visit the campaign’s website.

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