Phoenix dad Pays it Forward to recreation center that helps kids - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Phoenix dad Pays it Forward to recreation center that helps kids with special needs

(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Justin Lewis knows the challenges of raising a child with special needs. His 11-year old son Joseph has autism.

"His big struggle is being able to communicate on one-on-one basis," said Lewis. "Just getting people to understand who he is and what he's going through."


A couple weeks ago, the devoted dad saw a story on the news that hit close to home.

A Phoenix recreation center that helps people with special needs was the target of an arsonist, who burned down the facility's new playground.

"It hit me as a parent to see somebody else's kids hurting," said Lewis. "I knew I had to go out there and do something."

Lewis reached out to CBS 5, hoping to Pay it Forward to ARCH, the Arizona Recreation Center for the Handicapped.

He wanted to help them rebuild their $200,000 playground.

ARCH Program Director Vera Martinez said its been hard for the children to understand what happened.

"When they came after school, we'd have the kids run right to the playground," said Martinez. "They wouldn't even take their backpack off, they just came out here and this was the first thing they wanted to do."

A CBS 5 news crew joined Lewis at the facility, where he surprised staff members with $500.

"I saw story on the news the other day about how people came and destroyed the playground facility," said Lewis. "That ate me up real bad, How could somebody come and destroy your facility when you guys just built it? My family and Channel 5, and everybody wants to give your facility $500 so you can start rebuilding the playground."

"That is incredible, that the community cares that much," said Martinez. "It's wonderful that there are good people out there."

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