May 08, 2013 - Andersonville Elementary fourth grader Andrew Roeser only had one item on his birthday wish list as he turned 10-years-old last week.
He wanted his friends to donate to Friends of Ryan Kennedy (FORK) instead of bringing presents to his birthday party at Deer Lake Athletic Club on April 28.
His friends were happy to help him out and $672 was raised to go to FORK.
FORK is currently raising money to build a playground at Clintonwood Park in honor of Kennedy, who passed away after a five year battle against Ependymoma brain cancer last May.
"I am excited about building a playground," Roeser said, explaining he plays soccer at the park.
Heather Roeser, Andrew's mom and a FORK committee member, added the outpour of generosity was nice to see.
"Some of them thought it was cool," she said. "So did their parents. They were excited to come. Most of these kids may not know Ryan but are happy to help out. Plus, Ryan was the same age that they are."
Andrew explained one reason he chose to help out FORK was because he heard his mom talking about it a lot.
Another reason was a relative passed away from a brain tumor when he was a baby.
"He is aware of what brain cancer is and how it has had a direct effect on my family," Heather said. "That's how I became involved with FORK."
Friends and their parents also helped by buying bracelets and T-shirts during his birthday party.
Last year, Andrew asked for donations for SCAMP instead of birthday presents.
He invites everyone to head to Clintonwood Park this Saturday for the first annual Ryan Kennedy Memorial Kid's Day in the Park. It is hosted by the Independence Township Parks, Recreation and Seniors in partnership with Turtle Toys of Clarkston.
The free event is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with activities for the entire family including a petting zoo, kite flying, raffles, face painting, balloon animals, fort building, games, crafts and more.
FORK is having a fund raiser for the playground, which will include bouncers, rock climbing wall, mechanical bull ride, spinning carnival ride and retro games.
Wristbands to enter the Friends of Ryan Kennedy game area are $10 per child. T-shirts and other apparel are available for purchase.
The park dedication ceremony for Kennedy is at 11 a.m. with a butterfly release. Butterflies can be purchased before the event by contacting Kelly Hyer, 248-625-8223.
For more information, call 248-625-8223 or stop by Turtle Toys, 5530 Sashabaw Road.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.