WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Keokuk Breaks Ground on Bentley's Playground

Apr 3, 2015

The longer Matt McGhghy spoke about Bentley's Playground, the more emotional he became as he fought back tears of joy.  McGhghy says it's amazing how his hometown has gotten behind the effort to build a fully-accessible playground in Tolmie Park.

"I was born and raised here," said McGhghy.  "I know the type of people who live in this community.  They are all very caring, very knowledgeable of the cause my son is going through.  I'm not really surprised we were able to get money so fast and get this thing shovel-ready so soon."

Supporters turn some dirt to begin phase 1 of Bentley's Playground.
Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR

Bentley's Playground is named in honor of McGhghy's son, Bentley, 4, who has cerebral palsy.  Bentley was the inspiration for the project moving forward.  Matt McGhghy said his son's strength and determination inspires him.

"He's a great kid," said McGhghy.  "Obviously he can't talk and can't walk, but I know if he could talk, he would say, 'I love you Dad, I love you Mom and thanks for everything you have done.'"

More than 50 people turned out for the groundbreaking ceremony for Bentley's Playground.  Many are members or supporters of K-PLAY, the Keokuk Playgrounds for All committee.

The organization raised more than $35,000, which will pay for the installation of a giant swing-set that can accommodate a wheelchair.  The playground will also feature a large, stationary toy that plays music and there will be accessible sidewalks.

Nicole McGhghy holds her son, Bentley, following the groundbreaking for Bentley's Playground.
Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR

Matt McGhghy said he looks forward to seeing this playground being used by families like his.

"Not only is it going to help my son, it's going to help other kids in our surrounding area who can benefit from this who have a disease or a disability," said McGhghy.

The K-PLAY committee said as more money is raised, Bentley's Playground will be expanded.  The organization also wants to add accessible playgrounds to other parks.

Much of the construction-related work is being donated by local contractors. 

The next fundraiser, "Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner," is scheduled for Tuesday, April 7 at Meyer's Courtyard.