Heartfelt letter leads to new playground for school

AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - A boy from Auburn is leaving something behind to his elementary school that students will enjoy for years to come.

It all started with a letter he wrote to the owner of a company in Saco. The owner’s response came in the form of a very generous offer. 

For seven years, Elliot Dowd would go out to play on the rocky, dirt filled playground behind the Washburn Elementary School. Finally he decided to do something to make the playground better for future generations of students.

12-year old Dowd learned a lot of lessons at the school. But perhaps the most important, it’s never too late to turn things around.

“Constantly getting in trouble, being put in the principal’s office. So I decided to leave something good behind at the school instead of having just bad memories and bad things left behind”, he said.

As he gets ready to move on to middle school, Elliot is leaving behind a brand new playground, complete with the latest in artificial turf.

“Elliot basically reached out, very unselfishly, and asked what our organization could do to improve the play area”, said Harlan Michaud, owner of NET Sports Group.

This kid wasn’t messing around. He wrote a letter to the owner of a company that has installed turf at some of the biggest college and pro facilities in the country, including Gillette Stadium. It was clear to the owner, Elliot wasn’t asking for himself.

“In the letter he sent he talked a lot about some of his classmates that had been hurt playing on that particular playground”, Michaud said.

So Michaud wrote back, agreeing to pick up more than half the cost, if his school paid off the rest.

“I got really excited when I read he was donating $100,000 towards the turf”, said Dowd.

For Elliot’s mom Tina, It was the perfect way for her son to end his days at Washburn.

“I think he feels down about himself a lot, but this is really a huge boost for his self-esteem”, she said.

And it’s a lesson for all  kids. You never know what you can accomplish until you try.

“It’s probably going to be one of the most envied playgrounds in the Auburn, Maine community”, said Michaud.

And a reminder of the boy who made it happened.

Crews are hoping to begin laying down the turf later this month,so the new field will be ready for the new school year.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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