Anthony’s Awesome Playground Project Breaks Ground
Writer / Laurie Quinn
In the face of tragedy arise the faces of strength, perseverance and love. Meet the DiRienzo family. Last summer, Anthony DiRienzo, age 21 months, was tragically killed at a Fishers licensed in-home daycare. While the void in their lives and hearts can never be filled, Danny and Jocelyn, along with their oldest son, Dominic, decided to turn their grief into an action of love.
Anthony loved to play on the playground at New Hope Presbyterian Church and Preschool while waiting on Dominic to get released from class or after a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting held at the building. Jocelyn approached the director of the preschool, Karen Sutcliffe, saying she wanted to build a new playground for New Hope. Jocelyn, Danny and many friends set up an online donation site and took donations in hand with the original goal of $30,000. Jocelyn smiles as she recalls hoping to just be able to add a new piece of equipment to the existing playground. Little did the DiRienzo family know of the love and overwhelming generosity of the people who knew them and the kindness of strangers. Before they knew it, the DiRienzo family had raised over $46,000 to build a playground to honor Anthony—and build a playground, they did! The commercial-grade playground will supply hours of safe fun for children in Fishers.
Passersby can spot the blue playground while driving down Brooks School Road and 126th Street. The color blue was specifically chosen because of the color of Anthony’s eyes. The ribbon cutting for the playground was Saturday, June 14. The sun was shining and the support for the DiRienzo family was shining, too.
Anthony’s Awesome Playground’s first project was a success! A tent was filled with donations that were gathered for a raffle for future endeavors of the project. Buffalo Wild Wings and Marco’s Pizza catered food while GiGi’s Cupcakes and Snowie vending trucks came to provide dessert for the attendees. The Pacers showed up and they played basketball with the kids. Bounce U provided two inflatable games for the kids to play. Monica and Cheryl Moore provided face painting. After a touching speech by Jocelyn, the DiRienzo family released balloons in honor of each member of their family.
To know the DiRienzos is to love them. His family has shown immense strength to honor him in such a meaningful and powerful manner and to provide our community with a symbol and reminder that human kindness is overflowing in the Town of Fishers.