Child's traumatic brain injury inspires all-inclusive park in New Jersey

Toni Yates Image
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Traumatic injury inspires all-inclusive park, but help needed
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Toni Yates reports on how one child's traumatic brain injury inspired a field of dreams

TOMS RIVER, New Jersey (WABC) -- After school, 8-year-old Gavin Kane gets his loving greetings.

Gavin is wheeled up the driveway, but from there, he begins his power walk with his mom, Mary Kane.

When he was 19 months old, Gavin was in his booster seat. His father, Christian Kane, was making a left into Toms River East parking lot, when a beverage truck slammed into his car.

"We got hit by something," Christian said. "Whatever it was, it was heavy. For him not to be crying then, I knew we were in trouble."

Gavin suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in the hospital for two months. Mary was pregnant with Scarlet Mary at the time, the baby of six kids.

Still, she never left Gavin's side.

To this day, the former preschool teacher chooses to be a stay-at-home mom for all the kids, but also to be sure Gavin's every special need is met.

"Every single day, it is my life," Mary said. "But I remind myself, in the times when I'm not as patient as maybe I should be, that every day this is his life. And I'm lucky that I'm able to do what I do for him, and I'm grateful to have him."

Over the years, they have fashioned a backyard playground that helps Gavin with his motor skills and therapy.

Christian said the background features "a swimming pool that's heated, because it allows us therefore to do aqua therapy with him every single day. A trampoline that allows for resistance, to help him support with his legs. A swing set that is built for him to enjoy going on a swing or going down the slide."

Once, Mary came home from a public park in tears because she couldn't hoist Gavin onto a swing, and no one would help.

That's when the couple began thinking beyond their own special needs.

"To see her that upset, and then to be going and doing all these therapies with Gavin at the children's hospital and other facilities, and to realize that we're not the only one in this boat," Christian said.

They began the idea of the Toms River Field of Dreams, a complex of sports fields, outdoor activities and challenges for anyone, any age, need, or ability.

"You can stay in your wheelchair and go around a merry-go-round, or go down a zip line, and basically feel typical because your wheelchair is not inhibiting you from doing anything," Christian said. "If you have Lupus, or if you have autism or if you're recovering from cancer, whatever the case may be, or you have a traumatic brain injury like Gavin, you can go and do things that a) you never thought you could do or b) do things that you used to do."

At 1505 North Bay Avenue, the Toms River Field of Dreams is already in the works.

Land is being cleared. Architects have drawn it out, all because the Kanes and their kids have raised $1.8 million.

A desperate $400,000 is still needed, and they're looking for help.

"A company, if you run a charitable organization, if you have an endowment, trust, I need another $400,000," Christian said. "That's it. That would fully fund the entire complex."

Christian teaches statistics at a Toms River High School. He's a very busy father who turned tragedy into a goal to help so many more.

Gavin added to his purpose.

"It would relieve me of my worries and my concerns," Christian said.

For more information or to donate, visit There are also pages on GoFundMe and Facebook.


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