On May 4, 2016, Jacob (Jakey) Smotherman, went into sudden cardiac arrest and passed away at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, University of Michigan, at the young age of 18. As time passed, Jakey’s brother, Brenden and his girlfriend Courtney, desired to do something to honor the memory of his younger brother and lifelong buddy (afflicted with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia) who was always smiling, and spreading joy to those around him, despite his inability to talk or walk.
With their family home in Brighton, Brenden and his family would frequently take Jakey to Kensington Metropark to enjoy the trails and nature in the park. Brenden and Courtney determined that an accessible swing-set at Kensington Metropark, would provide many benefits to the community, while celebrating the life of Brenden’s brother. Working with the Metroparks Foundation, a location was selected within the park and a plan formulated to raise funds for the swings. Together, Brenden and Courtney organized a “Jogging for Jakey” 5K Run/Walk at Kensington, raising over $3,700 towards the swings. Several local organizations participated in the event through sponsorships and by contributing prizes.
To close the gap in funds needed the Gannett Foundation provided $3250 for the project. Allowing the project to move forward to completion. In the fall of 2018, the new accessible swing-set containing two ADA swings with a molded bucket seat with high back and harness that provides greater stability for kids with limited upper-body strength, were installed. These therapeutic swings allow users of all ages to safely enjoy the sensation of swinging even if they are not able to use a traditional style swing. There is also a sloped concrete transition to access the swing-set area by wheelchair. In addition to the two ADA-compliant swings, four other standard style swings will complete the project. These ADA swings are the first of their kind in Kensington Metropark and are located at the West Boat Launch.
“Courtney and I have been overcome with gratitude towards everybody who has supported us in helping to raise money for the ADA Swing Set at the West Boat Launch at Kensington Metropark in memory of my brother, Jakey. We wish to thank all who helped us along this journey on behalf of my family, friends, and others. To be able to get Jakey’s story out there and heard while being able to do something good because of it has really been a dream come true. Jakey was so full of life up until his passing at 18 and courageously battled cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia throughout his young life. The journey of our first “Jogging for Jakey 5K” was incredible, and we look forward to throwing this event annually with the proceeds being contributed to different causes each year,” said Brenden.