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Building a playground for Brody | News

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Building a playground for Brody
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ATLANTA -- Take a stroll through the halls of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, and you might notice a pattern.

In the hospital rooms, at the front desk - everywhere you turn, you see red.

And it all has to do with little Brody Cole.

"He was waiting for an organ transplant," said his mom, Kristi.  "He waited almost four years, but he didn't get his call in time. He passed away on September 29, 2009 - two years ago today."

Brody fought the same battle almost every day of his short life: mitochondrial disease, an illness that causes organ failure.

Kristi says her youngest son practically grew up in Scottish Rite, and bounced around the halls like he owned the place.

"We actually had to have a rule that he couldn't leave the room until 9 a.m. or until I had two cups of coffee," she laughed.

Tiny as he was, Brody was known for his enormous personality.

"People from the fourth floor would come visit him, people in food services...Brody didn't eat, but they all knew him," said Michelle Walker, his primary nurse.

"They were very protective of Brody here, and he was very protective of them," his mother added.

And a funny thing happened: the little boy sent to the hospital to be healed, ended up healing the hospital workers in return.

"One thing I will always remember about him is his laugh," Walker said. "He was like my family. He was like my little boy."

His charm spread to all areas of the hospital, even non-health care employees. He soon formed a close bond with Morris Allen, who worked in the hospital's media department.

"I'm proud to say that my best friend was a seven-year-old kid," Allen laughed. "And to this day, he's still my best friend."

Now, on the 29th of each month, nurses, staff and doctors all dress in Brody's favorite color: red.

They do it to remember the little boy who touched them so, but also to raise money to build a lasting tribute: a playground in his honor.

"Because he had all of these IV lines and everything, he couldn't climb up things and go down slides the way most kids can do," Walker said.

"And I think that if we have this medically fragile playground that these kids can access, I think it will be such a difference in their hospital stay and their world in general," she added.

And while he didn't know it, and his mother still can't quite explain it, the idea actually came from Brody himself.

"He had a prayer, and at the close of every prayer or every blessing he said, 'And at the playground, I slide down the slide. Amen.' And we didn't know what that meant, but he said it thousands of times," Kristi said.

That was the beginning of Kristi's vision: to transform the hospital's existing playground into Brody's Dream Playground, one made especially for handicapped or ill children.

"Brody was a gift to us, and he just keeps on giving," Walker said. "This playground is testament to that."

To purchase a t-shirt or give a flat donation toward Brody's Playground at Scottish Rite, click here. All proceeds from t-shirt sales will go toward the playground.

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