Although Roswell’s PLAY Activity Center is closing, the business’ director says she hopes to turn a sad occasion into more of a happy one with a fundraising event on Sunday to raise money to a local girl who lost her battle with cancer.
Ava Sentell had her fourth birthday party at PLAY; she passed away in 2010, shortly before her fifth birthday.
“Sometime after that, her mom had come and asked me for her handprint from the wall,” PLAY Director Colleen MacDonald said of the wall in the center’s party room where birthday kids leave their handprints. “That inspired the idea for the fundraiser.”
And, since the business is closing at the end of the month, MacDonald said it was a perfect time to celebrate both the business and Ava.
“This has all kind of happened within the last three weeks,” MacDonald said. “I thought we were going to be moving, and we just can’t afford to move, so we’re closing. I’ve wanted to do a fundraiser for a while, so I had to make this happen. It’s not like we’ve been planning for six months. We want to turn something sad into something good. A lot of people are sad about us closing, including me. We want to turn something sad into something positive and pay it forward. We want to give back.”
According to the website for the Rally Foundation, an organization aimed at raising money for childhood cancer research, Ava was diagnosed with stage 4 Undifferentiated Sarcoma two weeks before starting Pre-K. A CT scan of a bump on her head revealed several brain bleeds, and doctors later discovered she had tumors on her heart, liver, kidneys, spleen and adrenal gland.
“(Ava’s mom) was obviously very touched (about the fundraiser) and wanted to do everything that she could to help,” MacDonald said. “She thought it was wonderful. I think she’s just very happy that it can happen on any level.”
The fundraiser will be a festival-type event with Home Depot construction activities for kids, a fire truck on display, crafts, games, face painting, a hair spray station, a karaoke lounge and, of course, the activities the center offers like foam pits and trampolines.
“We’re going to be running obstacle courses,” MacDonald said.
Some activities will require tickets, such as the bounce houses and handprint stations. Tickets can be purchased for $1. And, all handprints from birthday parties held at the center will be removed for sale to the childrens’ families.
Food and drink will be available for purchase, and there also will be a raffle. Proceeds from those and any ticketed activities will go to the Rally Foundation. In addition, J. Christopher’s is donating part of Sunday’s receipts to the foundation as well.
“It’s going to be really fun,” MacDonald said. “I’m really excited about it. I think Sunday’s going to be pretty fun.”
The fundraiser is scheduled for Sunday from 12-5 p.m. PLAY Activity Center is located at 10930 Crabapple Rd.