Make-A-Wish Foundation and the city contribute funds to renovate favorite playground
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Remember Whitaker Weinburger? He’s the Alexandria boy who gained national attention when he turned four last September, celebrating on his way to school with a parade of yellow cars resembling Bumblebee, his favorite “Transformers” character.
This morning Weinburger received another gift. The cancer survivor had his wish granted from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That wish was the renovation of the Woodbine Tot Lot, across from the Weinburger family home, where he lives with his father Seth, mother Erin, and sister Lakeland.
In a small ribbon-cutting ceremony not open to the public because of health concerns, the Weinburgers were joined by family, City of Alexandria representatives, including Mayor Justin M. Wilson and Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, and staff from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Seth Weinburger told The Zebra that witnessing the ceremony and meeting the people who support his son’s wish filled his family with joy.
“So many people have helped us over the years, and I wish they could have all [been here],” he said. “Opening the playground signifies the end of a long, painful journey, and the start of a new, happier chapter in our lives. We are so grateful to be able to share some of our happiness.”
Through the Community Matching Fund, the city offered a $25,000 grant. Make-A-Wish matched the amount.
During her brother’s treatment, 10-year-old Lakeland frequently spent time at the playground, feeling comfortable there. When making his wish, the often-smiling little boy thought of all the kids in his neighborhood.
Sheriff Lawhorne remarked how nice it is when people think of others, calling Whitaker very unselfish.
“We got involved with Whitaker last September when we had the parade to school,” said Sheriff Lawhone. “[We] heard about this and had to get behind it.”
“This is really an impressive and selfless project,” said Mayor Wilson, “where one young man’s idea turned into a playground that is going to benefit our community for generations.”
Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities oversaw the project, for which Make-A-Wish hired a designer. The renovated playground has a plaque that reads: “I am strong. I am brave. I am Whitaker.”
“As parents, all [my wife and I] ever wanted was for him to be able to enjoy life,” Seth said. “We know this playground will provide hours of happiness and joy for anybody who uses it for years to come. Playing together should be kids’ priority.”