Leesburg playgroup hopeful for Butterfly Kisses campaign

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- During the second month of campaigning for the Butterfly Kisses Playgroup's pursuit of a Pepsi Refresh Grant, the effort's coordinator said the elements are in place to make her dream a reality.

And that dream is to ensure disabled children in Southwest Georgia have a place to play.

"My son Chance has cerebral palsy," Traci Henry, a resident of Lee County, said of her motivation to keep the cause going. "We had a very hard time dealing with that the first few years of his life."

Henry eventually formed the Butterfly Kisses Playgroup, which is currently 75 families strong. At the same time, she was also determined to have a playground for disabled children constructed to accommodate those that would usually have a hard time using standard playground equipment.

"I'm not stopping until every school has one (a playground for the disabled)," she said.

The campaign started in October with the initial deadline to vote being Oct. 31, but it automatically rolled over into November. "It turns out it can take you several months," Henry said.

Pepsi gives away $1.3 million each month to fund projects such as this one. The deadline to vote during this cycle is Nov. 30, and the group has to maintain a top 10 standing to win the $50,000 it is shooting for. As of midday Friday, Butterfly Kisses was ranked No. 8.

Regardless of what the results are, Henry said she is confident the playground will be built. "We've already had offers for land as well as donation of materials," she said. "We have had an overwhelming response.

"I did not expect communities across the U.S. to pitch in. I have complete strangers e-mailing me, praising me. I'm just doing what any parent would do."

To vote, text 103013 to PEPSI (73774), go on Facebook or to the Pepsi Refresh website at www.refresheverything.com/butterflykisses. The website can also be utilized to keep track of the campaign's standings.

Henry is expected to get final word of the results during the early hours of Dec. 1.

Henry is also coordinating a block party to thank the community for its support, which will be held today at the Leesburg Soccer Fields from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. The free event is expected to feature food, a petting zoo, face painting, palm reading, vendor tables, music by Cole Taylor and Landis Frier and games for children.