By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
Hayleigh Ruddell and Hailey Remigio, known as "The Two Haleys," gave themselves a mission.
They adopted Sanchez Park in Ormond Beach and they spent many hours taking care of the park, cleaning it and tending to it.
Then a tragic accident caused the death of one of their friends. Cameron Brenneman, two years behind them in school, came to the park regularly, playing and fishing and teaching younger children how to fish. Now the two "Haleys" had a dream. They wanted to find a way to honor Cameron, their friend, and decided they wanted the playground, which was to be expanded and renovated, named in his memory.
They tirelessly worked toward their goal, sending letters and speaking before the Ormond Beach City Commission, until their dream was made a reality. In a ceremony Saturday, Oct. 13, in the presence of many Ormond Beach leaders and their friends and neighbors, Major Ed Kelley made it official, with a proclamation and a sign denoting the dedication of the new playground as the Cameron Brenneman Memorial Playground.
The two "Haleys" were described as two young ladies who wanted to do something special for a fallen student.
Robert Carolin, leisure services director, said, "We are here today to celebrate the life of Cameron Brenneman, by dedicating this beautiful playground for him. Those of you that knew Cameron, you knew that this was the area where he loved to hang out. Cameron made a difference in a lot of people's lives."
Ormond Beach Mayor Ed Kelley said the actions of the two "Haleys" "show the community spirit and the dedication of two young girls trying to make a difference in a horrible, tragic situation. In this way Cameron's memory will live on forever and ever."
Cameron's mother, Patti Brenneman -- expressed to the public her appreciation and heartfelt gratitude for "the Haleys" and for all who have given her support and courage to go on after the tragic loss of her son.
"Outside of this being the most phenomenal honor . . . it's so overwhelming," Ms. Brenneman said. "I knew what a wonderful boy Cameron was and just to see how much everybody else felt about him, it's just the bright spot in all of this. And knowing that his name is on this and kids will play here and he'll never be forgotten."
But the two "Haleys" weren't through. They spent many hours working with the developers to decide what types of activities and equipment would be placed in the new playground, filling it with remembrances of Cameron, catering to his favorites.
Renovations of the park were "part of the capital improvement projects for this year," said Mike Demchak, community events coordinator. The park is at 329 Sanchez Ave. and is used regularly by many of the youngsters who live near it.
In addition to being "pet-friendly" the park has a number of amenities, such as boat ramps and fishing at Strickland's Creek, a new boardwalk, family style barbecue grill, a pavilion and a gazebo.
To reserve park facilities for family reunions, weddings or receptions, call Ormond Beach Leisure Services at (386) 676-3277.