Playground in Sayreville honors life of little ‘angel’

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By PETER ELACQUA
Staff Writer

SAYREVILLE – A local family is turning grief into positivity by opening a playground that will honor a young son lost last year.

The Lyrics for Lucas Foundation, along with the Where Angels Play Foundation, opened the Lucas Albert DiGuilio Memorial Playground on April 30, which was constructed at the Garden Friends child care center in the Parlin section of Sayreville.

Lucas passed away at the age of 22 months in 2016 from sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC), which occurs when an apparently healthy child beyond the age of 12 months dies without warning and without cause.

Following the loss of their son, Albert DiGuilio and Maria Markisello of South Amboy created the Lyrics for Lucas Foundation in order to build a lasting legacy for Lucas by honoring his fondness for music and introducing a scholarship to students in the performing arts, DiGuilio said.

“Where Angels Play, with the support of both the public and the Home Depot of Old Bridge, has delivered the joyful gift of a playground that will reflect the personality and influence of one incredible little angel, Lucas,” Albert DiGuilio said.

The groundbreaking ceremony on April 28 saw more than 40 Angel Army volunteers from all across New Jersey and two firefighters from Boston join Kali DiGuilio, Lucas’ twin sister, who was named project foreperson of the construction at the ceremony.

The playground was completed the morning of April 30. A ceremony kicked off with Sayreville Mayor Kennedy O’Brien presenting a township proclamation to the DiGuilios for the playground dedication. The day concluded with Albert, Maria and Kali cutting the ribbon so that all children in attendance would be the first to enjoy.

“When we thought the project would run behind schedule we were joined by Home Depot’s Tracey Burke and her amazing team to help with completing the playground through Saturday evening but also helped expedite all materials needed from her Home Depot location,” DiGuilio said.

The couple said they hope that the playground will not only be a place for future generations to play, but will also be a place to bring awareness to SUDC and how precious time and children really are.

“Where Angels Play Foundation, whose mission statement is ‘to create joyful places to play, to provide hope, recovery, and to pay it forward in supporting projects that reflect a return to family values across the nation,’ has proudly partnered with Lyrics for Lucas in honor of our incredible young boy,” DiGuilio said.

On April 22, the Lyrics for Lucas Foundation held its Day of Celebration at Garden Friends in conjunction with the MAX of Sayreville’s Day of Giving to remember the life of Lucas. More than 200 people participated in raising more than $6,500. The day’s events included music, a tricky tray, face paintings, and more.

During the event, the Lyrics for Lucas Foundation presented Bill and MaryKate Lavin, founders of Where Angels Play, with $15,000 in support of their efforts to build such playgrounds.

For more information about the Lyrics for Lucas Foundation, visit www.lyricsforlucas.org.

Contact Peter Elacqua at [email protected].