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New Queens Playground Connects Communities Impacted By Sandy Hook Shooting, Hurricane Sandy

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TWC News: New Queens Playground Connects Communities Impacted By Sandy Hook Shooting, Hurricane Sandy
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Two communities devastated by two different events - the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and Hurricane Sandy - are now connected by something that will serve as a tribute and sign of rebirth. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

Sometimes, from the bad comes the good.

Such is the case for the Sandy Ground Project. It's taking two tragedies and turning them into the motivation to build playgrounds and produce joy.

"Rebuild coastal communities that were hard hit by Hurricane Sandy along New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, while dedicating each one to a child or teacher that was killed in Sandy Hook, in Newtown Elementary School," said Bill Lavin of the Sandy Ground Project.

The playground in Breezy Point took only one day to build and was constructed by volunteers, mainly firefighters. It officially opened Sunday, and it's dedicated to Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist who died in the Sandy Hook shooting.

The emotion for her daughters and husband was evident. They say it is a fitting tribute.

"This is great," said Bill Sherlach, Mary Sherlach's husband. "There's no more appropriate thing for her than a playground."

The playground, paid for in part by the NFL's Super Bowl Host Committee, was a welcome addition for the Breezy Point community, from kids who were pumped up to play to community leaders who were grateful for the help rebuilding from the storm.

"We will treasure this park, and the children will laugh and play, and when we have parties, we will think of Newtown," said one community leader.

This is the 16th playground that the group has built in the tri-state area. Each is inspired by the person it is dedicated to. This one incorporates Mary's favorite flower, the rose, a SUNY Cortland football helmet representing the college where she met her husband, and the Miami Dolphins, Mary's favorite football team.

"It's just incredible. It's palpable," Bill Sherlach said. "The people I got to meet today, just incredible people."

The connection between the Sherlach family and this community is only just beginning. Community leaders said that they'll plant a rose garden here, and it will bloom every year as another reminder of Mary's favorite flower.

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