Edgewood Elementary had been fundraising to replace its aging playground equipment one piece at time. And then the Ring family stepped in. Fourth-grader Kathryn Ring’s mom Lindsey had been looking for a meaningful way to donate money her father Gerald Pulliam had left her—and the playground was just the right fit. A few conversations later, plans were in motion to replace the entire playground at once. We chatted with Lindsey about her dad’s legacy, the playground itself and how fun it was to see her daughter’s classmates play on it when it opened in September.

How did this all come to be?

Since my dad died in October 2013, I have been wanting to make a donation somewhere that could help kids. He died right before my daughter’s fifth birthday. I threw around ideas for five years and couldn’t find anything that was solid. One day I was at Edgewood and saw that they were raising money for a playground. I saw the sign out in front of the school that said it was established 1924, and I thought, “This school has been here for 90 years plus, and this (playground) is going to be here in 20 or 30 years.” I just talked to Laura Tate the assistant principal, and they were all for it. I saw the opportunity of something that would be longstanding and that my daughter could see and be proud of—and that we could see every day.

Tell us some about your dad.

He used to help with fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis as a volunteer, so that’s why we wanted the donation to have something to do with kids. He was expected to die almost two years earlier than he did, which I think was amazing. It was 21 months and 21 days that he ended up living past that. We think it was his grandkids who motivated him; my nephew is the same age as my daughter. He had stage 4 esophageal cancer, and he also had a heart attack during that time. He had to wear this vest that gave electrical pulses if his heart stopped, and he was still picking up the kids with that. I have a picture where he was picking up my daughter to make a basketball hoop. He was weak and skinny and wearing that vest, and he was still doing that.

What was your role in the playground building process?

I was completely involved with every decision, and my daughter helped since she can tell me what kids like and don’t like. She is so proud of this playground. We worked closely with Edgewood Principal Dr. Matt Kiser and PTO President Hannah Johnson too. There’s more play equipment and more swings, and the overall amount of space for kids to play has increased enormously for the 800 kids in our school.

How did y’all select the particular playground pieces?

We found really unique items that are not found on other playgrounds. There’s one piece called a spring fling that you stand on and jump, and it moves a whole lot. Another piece is like a large rope swing is also super popular. Two kids can get on it, and two kids can push them on it. There’s a swing where you can clip in a wheelchair too. Even the monkey bars are really cool, they are in an octagonal shape. They removed all the gravel and put a new ground covering that’s softer in case kids fall. I didn’t know there were so many options to customize it to what you want.

What was it like to be there for the ribbon cutting?

Three fourth grade classes got to play on it right then. I spent some time up there during the day, and watching the kids get excited and run around was amazing. My daughter says kids will stop her in the hallway to say they love it, and the anticipation had been building while they were building it. They loved watching the construction and the big pieces of equipment.