COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In spring 2021, the South Colonie Central School District announced plans for the construction of an additional playground to be built on the Saddlewood Elementary campus. The project, called Charlie’s Playground, will be built in honor of former Saddlewood student Charlie Fernandez. Charlie was a first-grade student at Saddlewood Elementary who sadly lost her courageous battle with neuroblastoma in April 2021.

“Annually, students participating in the Colonie Central High School (CCHS) iCare program select a charity at the beginning of the year to support,” said Associate Principal Brian Scalzo. “In addition to another important cause, our students felt personally connected to Charlie’s story and wanted to help raise funds to help with the build of the playground.”

Through collaboration with the Fernandez family, the national foundation “Where Angels Play,” and other area organizations, a new all-abilities playground will be built at the elementary school with feature areas for children with visual impairments.

As part of iCare collective efforts, CCHS iCare students are set to host a special staff versus student basketball game fundraiser. The event is set for Friday, November 4 at 6 p.m. and will be held in the Colonie Central High School MUG. The cost is $4 with all proceeds going to support the project.

“We are excited to have the community come out and support a great cause while also having some fun cheering on the students,” said CCHS iCare Co-presidents Emily Terry and Ella Irons.

“Charlie meant so much to our school community and her family wanted to create something special in her honor but also have it benefit the Saddlewood Elementary students and our community at large,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Perry. “This is a perfect example of the kindness and consideration we receive after establishing these deep connections with our students and families. We are proud that iCare is partnering with us and Charlie’s family on this special project.”

The playground, expected to be completed by fall 2023, will be led by the Where Angels Play Foundation, with oversight by the South Colonie Central School District and the Fernandez family. Over the years, the Where Angels Play Foundation has worked with families across the northeast to establish playground areas like the one proposed, most notably in honor of students and staff impacted by the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.