By Paige Reischl (Eli’s Mom)
In February of 2017, Eli’s physical therapist, Shawn and I sat at a tiny table in Ravenna Brewing, sipped some delicious IPA and wondered out loud why people with disabilities are so excluded from so many parts of our community.
We talked, pondered (tipped our amazing bartenders, of course) and then took that question out of our favorite neighborhood brewery into our community and asked it again. And again. And again. And every time we asked it, it grew a little. And very, very quickly, the question became far too big for just one mom and one physical therapist. Parents and caregivers of kids with disabilities and people living in low-income housing and BIPOC teenagers and LGBTQ+ community members and disabled adults and so many others began asking and answering their versions of the question: What would it take to create a place where everybody belongs?
And you became we, and we grew from two, to many, to an entire community. And a rare and beautiful thing happened. Everyone agreed. We just need a place that we can all access, where we all feel safe, welcome and loved. And Eli’s Park Project became our dream.
Then tragically, in August of 2017, Eli transitioned. We lost our inspiration, our love, our light. But we had each other, we had our dream and we had Ravenna Brewing. The amazing owners and staff opened their hearts and space to the project. They donated, hosted fundraisers for the park, brewed an Inclusion IPA and loved, supported and encouraged us.
So, we all kept going, and for the next six years we built together. We built a team. We built support. We built community and connection. We built partnerships and pathways. And, now, so, so soon, we are actually building the park!
We’ll be hanging at Ravenna Brewing on March 19 to celebrate this amazing milestone. More details coming but save the date to join us at our favorite neighborhood brewery where hazy IPAs inspire clear dreams.
Who knows what we’ll build together next? Cheers!