Kenadi left lasting legacy

During her brief visit on Earth, Kenadi Jean Weis touched many lives. 

Even though the sweet 5-year-old died in 2014, her amazing spirit lives on through the Kenadi Jean Weis Foundation.

Last May, a group of 30 community volunteers in Spearfish united to take action, building an inclusive playground made possible through the foundation and many private donors.

That area of Jorgensen Park was dedicated Saturday in memory of Kenadi. A special thanks should go to Kenadi’s loving family and the foundation for this wonderful gift to our community. 

The playground was completed on June 14 to address the needs of all children, regardless of their age or ability, Kenadi’s mom, Kelly Weis-Schultz, told those gathered for the ribbon cutting.

“All inclusive playgrounds will allow children of all abilities to learn, play, and grow together, side-by-side,” she said. “This revolutionary discovery is part of the legacy that Kenadi leaves as we continue, not only as her family, but also as a community, to build awareness. We are her voice to be heard as we use our hands to serve and our hearts to love.”

But the drive to offer more inclusive play areas does not stop there. Weis-Schultz revealed that the foundation is working on the Kenadi Jean Playground Destination.

The Foundation has partnered with Spearfish Forest Products on the 120-acre property located north of the Spearfish Pellet Plant.  Weis-Schultz said the land agreement progresses Kenadi’s family and the foundation closer to changing the world, one playground at a time.

It will feature an accessible tree house, elevated sandboxes and interactive gardens, an accessible fishing pond, splash pad, not to mention the Ollie’s Owl Nest Indoor Playground.

Kenadi passed away from infantile spasms, an age-dependent form of epilepsy often associated with an anoxic brain injury at birth. Nonverbal and requiring the use of a wheelchair, Kenadi inspired her family to create the foundation, which has the mission, “To assist all special needs children and their families achieve fulfilled lives through support, resources, respite care, volunteerism, and advocacy.” 

This family is a shining inspiration for us all to take tragedies that are beyond our control and find a positive path forward. Through their efforts Kenadi’s spirit will continue to make a positive impact on all kids in our community for generations and come. Her all too short life taught us all so much. 

On behalf of the greater Northern Hills community, we thank you for your commitment and efforts in the name of your sweet Kenadi.

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