BELLE ISLE, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – In August of 2016, local philanthropist Christopher Comins received the wonderful news that he was a grandfather. At the same time his daughter, Jenny Lynn Hutnick, and the entire family learned that her son, KJ, was born with Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This extra genetic material causes developmental difficulties and physical features distinctive to Down Syndrome. Rather than looking at KJ’s condition as a challenge, Hutnick, a nurse, went to work by creating a foundation called The Up Side of Down, with the specific purpose of improving the lives of children with Down Syndrome. Comins, her father, has partnered with the foundation to fund this exciting and unique project. “My daughter gave me a gift in KJ and I want to do whatever is in my power and resources to make his life and the lives of other children with Down Syndrome meaningful,” said Comins. “KJ couldn’t have been born to a better mother and more selfless person.”
“KJ’s PLAYGROUND” IN WARREN PARK
Nestled among the pristine tree-lined streets and Conway Chain of Lakes in Belle Isle, Florida, is Orange County’s Warren Park, the site where the interactive and special needs park, “KJ’s Playground,” will be built. Special needs parks, in the simplest of descriptions, features traditional playground style equipment modified for various forms of movement, like wheelchairs and children with crutches and braces.
The goal is simply to enhance physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning, as well as a sense of belonging in a community.
Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke expressed, “I was excited to learn that Chris and his family were bringing this project to an Orange County park. It speaks volumes to the charitable nature of this and all the projects Chris has brought to the residents of Orange County and especially those in Belle Isle.”
“I recall when I first met with Chris at a chance meeting where he mentioned the interactive park and I suggested Warren Park. I recall how matter of fact he was in wanting to do this project.” City of Belle Isle Commissioner Bobby Lance said. “We’re very fortunate in the City of Belle Isle to have such a giving neighbor in Chris and his entire family…especially the inspiration for the project, his grandson KJ.”
While the completion date is not confirmed, Comins acknowledged that he and his daughter are researching other special needs parks throughout the country in order to bring the most relevant and appropriate equipment to the project. Comins, retired, lives in the City of Belle Isle and was just recently spotlighted by Florida National News for a donation and complete reconstruction of the City of Belle Isle Police Station.
Florida National News will be there for the opening and dedication of “KJ’s Playground” and will bring you that report timely.
Randy Ross is a political contributor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org