The memory of Myles McAdoo will put smiles on the faces of children for years to come, after a playground was dedicated in his honor last week.
After a long fundraising process to get the playground built, the Bethlehem YMCA finally dedicated the structure to McAdoo on Wednesday, July 16. The 9-year-old Bethlehem boy died nearly two years ago following a battle with brain cancer.
“We wanted to make this an all-inclusive playground, which is reminiscent of Myles,” said Executive Director Derek Martin. “Myles loved everybody. He didn’t care what your talents were, he didn’t care what your abilities were, he loved everybody who was around him.”
The majority of the money was provided by the Capital District YMCA Board of Trustees and Heritage Club, and was the idea of President and CEO David Brown. The new playground sits beside the pavilion that was completed last year, and both will be available to participants of the Bethlehem YMCA summer camp.
Myles was chosen to be honored in part because the McAdoos have a longstanding relationship with the Bethlehem YMCA and its staff. Many watched Myles grow up, and in 2012, his community tribute celebration was held at the YMCA ice rink.
Myles was first treated for brain cancer in 2005 at the age of 3. He went through a 10-hour surgery to remove a tumor, underwent eight weeks of radiation treatment and then a year of chemotherapy.
Through all that pain, he grew into a joyful, fun-loving child, according to his mother, Laurel McAdoo.
McAdoo was told her son would have some developmental issues and his pituitary gland would be stunted, but besides that he would live a normal, full life.
Then in January of 2012 at Myles’ 5-year checkup, McAdoo received devastating news: Myles was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on his brain stem. McAdoo made the difficult decision to not tell 9-year-old Myles or his twin brother, Marcelle, about the diagnosis. She began to focus on making sure the last months of Myles’ life were the best they could be.
Through a fund drive, $30,000 was raised so the family could take several vacations to places like Disney World. As Myles became sicker, his friends still did not know about his prognosis. On good days he would attend school, and on bad days stay home and watch television.
All the while, Myles stayed his bright and positive self, until he passed away on July 24, 2012.
“I’m overwhelmed that in just two short years since Myles passed away we’ve been able to achieve such wonderful things in his honor,” said McAdoo. “This playground is just another wonderful, amazing opportunity for those who never got a chance to know Myles, to know what a huge heart he had.”
McAdoo thanked the Bethlehem YMCA and members of the community for their ongoing support.
“I know now more than ever, things happen for a reason,” she said. “My moving to this town wasn’t happenstance, attending this Y wasn’t happenstance … and having the amazing neighbors and friends that I have isn’t happenstance.”
Myles was an honorary member of the Delmar Fire Department, and Chief Dan Ryan was invited to speak at the event.
“Myles was a firefighter in every definition of the word,” he said. “Every person who knew Myles was a better person for having known him.”
McAdoo’s favorite color, orange, could be found mixed in throughout the playground dedication and playground itself. The sign and bench that memorializes McAdoo is orange, and it is also the official color of the foundation started by Myles’ mother.
The playground was one of the first major efforts funded by Myles of Smyles Foundation, a nonprofit started by Laurel McAdoo shortly after Myles’ death. The foundation works “by putting happy faces in needed places, and provides support and services to families facing life-threatening illness.”
Myles of Smyles provided the last of the money to get the playground built, with a donation of more that $10,000. Martin said he had thought all of the needed money was secure but had a case of sticker shock.
“Apparently playgrounds have changed since I was a kid and so have the prices,” he said.
Additional support was provided by Advantage Tree Service, the Slingerlands Elementary PTO, and local Girl Scout troops.
“I say this all the time, but people were better because they were around Myles,” said Martin. “So that playground is reminiscent of Myles … and he’ll always be remembered.”