Girl raises money for special needs equipment at splash park

Payton Dillon has raised money for several causes.

A new splash park in Greenwood, at the site of the old city pool, is going to be accessible for children with special needs. That's thanks in part to a young girl, who's raising money to make it happen.

Payton Dillon is only 10 years old, but she has a heart for charity.

While most girls her age are painting their nails, Payton is painting pop tabs and creating bracelets to make life better for other children. She's raised money for Riley Hospital, for teachers at her school, and now a new project at Greenwood's new City Center Park.

"I'm going to give all the money to them. None of it's going to me," Payton said.

She first saw a need for swings in Greenwood parks for children with special needs. She wrote a letter to the mayor, made a plan and now has a goal to make the splash pad accessible with unique features so all kids, regardless of physical ability, can play there.

"What an inspirational little kid," said Molly Laut, Marketing Director for the City of Greenwood. "It's really exciting to see someone so young so passionate about other kids!"

For Payton, that passion is personal.

"I think this one's a little closer to her heart, because she is a special needs child," explained her dad, Joe Dillon. "We battled her condition for several years through different diagnosis."

A few years ago, Payton had a cyst on her brain the size of an apple. She went through surgery and rehab at Riley Hospital and knows what it's like to have physical limitations.

"I just felt like they gave to me, so I felt like I should give back to them," Payton said.

Plus, she wanted her classmates to enjoy the park too.

"I have a friend in a wheelchair named Morgan. We call her Moggie. She can't walk or do anything without anything to hold her up to help her. There's gonna be special needs swings there, so that way Moggie can play on special needs equipment," Payton explained.

"I think it's going to take this park from good to great," Laut said.

In just a couple of weeks, Payton's already raised hundreds of dollars, with matching funds from the Johnson County Community Foundation.

She's now speaking to local businesses to get more donations. Payton's family says their little girl has a big heart for other kids in need.

"I feel like they can just go play and have fun and I feel like I don't need to, they don't need to give me anything back. I've done my part," Payton said.

Construction is well underway at the splash park. It's expected to be finished at the end of July, weather permitting. If you'd like to donate and help with Payton's cause, you can visit her Facebook page or donate through the city of Greenwood website.

Payton's Playground Facebook page

City of Greenwood's website