Building a Dream: Ronald McDonald House Playground


This was my favorite photo of Maggie.

Meet Maggie. She is a six-year-old survivor of neuroblastoma with a dream of building a handicap accessible playground for Ronald McDonald House of the Tri-State. Last week, her dream became a reality. After a year of fundraising, Maggie watched as her playground was constructed, and I photographed the entire week.

I have realized that the reason I like taking photos is because I am a storyteller. Taking photos is just another way to tell a story. Behind every photo is a story. Jacob (pictured below) is eight years old. He was born with hydrocephalus and has had many brain surgeries over his short life. Maggie is his best friend. When Maggie realized that Jacob couldn’t swing on Ronald McDonald House’s old playground, she raised money to build a playground that they could play on together. Now Maggie and Jacob can swing side-by-side.

Jacob with his Narwhal likeness.

Another story from this week is Mike’s. Mike lives down the street from Ronald McDonald House. He noticed the construction one day while passing by, and offered to help. Mike showed up for four days of the construction build. On the fifth day he hobbled to the work site to tell us that he couldn’t help that day because he could barely walk. Mike came to help literally from off the street, and worked until he couldn’t walk.

Mike lives on the same street as RMH. He saw the work going on and wanted to help.

Below are Randy and Mitchell. They both work for area construction companies who volunteered their time to help build Maggie’s playground. These construction companies gave up paying projects to help make a little girl’s dream come true. Although there were a lot of construction workers, Mitchell and Randy were my favorite because they were always laughing.

Randy and Mitchell, laughing as they worked.


Huntington, West Virginia is often in the news for terrible things, like obesity, high overdose rates, and unhappiness. But last week I got to see the side of Huntington that I have known for my entire life: the Appalachian mindset of helping others. I saw hundreds of people give their time to saw 2x4s, hammer countless nails, and pour hundreds of pounds of concrete, all for one little girl. These photos reflect just a few great stories of those who were involved in the playground project.

New Year’s Resolution Update: One of my New Years’ resolutions was to learn to take a decent photo, using manual settings. I am proud to say that every one of these photos was taken using manual. (Yay!)

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