BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE
PUNGO — Hudson’s Playground, celebrating the life of 4-year-old Hudson Foschi, was dedicated on Sunday, July 28, at Charity United Methodist Church.
The new and improved playground for Charity Preschool and the community now bears the name of a child who died in January. Hudson was a beloved student at the school, remembered for his spirit, smile and, from time to time, dressing up as the hammer-wielding superhero Thor.
The tragedy led to an outpouring of love and support throughout rural communities for Hudson’s family, including displays of light blue ribbons on mailboxes, signs and buildings in Virginia Beach and nearby North Carolina areas. Many of them remain.It also led to efforts to raise funds through the Hudson Strong Foundation to significantly revitalize the playground. The recent dedication, gathering family and friends, saw it reach fruition.
“We want his legacy to live on for many, many years to come,” said the Rev. David Ryu, senior pastor at the church during a prayer at the beginning of the dedication.
“And so as we celebrate the renovation and the renewal of this playground for our preschool,” Ryu said, “as we dedicate it in Hudson’s name, all of us who are here will not only be joyful in our hearts, but we also believe Hudson is here with us.”“I still remember Hudson’s sweet smile,” said Heather Harris, director of the preschool at Charity.
“More importantly, I remember how he could make everyone around him smile,” she said. “He greeted everyone with that big, beautiful smile. And he shared it with his family, his friends, his neighbors, his preschool teachers, his pastor and his church family.”
A moment later, she added: “I cannot think of a better, more brilliant way to honor the memory of our sweet Hudson, the kid with the most vivid and abundant smile ever, then to fill this space with the countless smiles of children for many, many years to come. Welcome to this extraordinary, love-filled space, Hudson’s Playground.”
She introduced Nick Cleanthes, who owns Blue Pete’s Restaurant with his brother, Aristotle. They were a big part of the effort to raise funds for the playground.
“Because of you, we can move mountains, and accomplish some pretty incredible things in this community,” he said.Robert and Margaret Foschi, Hudson’s grandparents, thanked the church and community for support.
“The last seven months or so, I know Hudson is with me,” Robert Foschi said.
“I know he’s with Margaret. I know he is with all of us here today. And I know that what I’ve done, personally, is to dedicate the remainder of my life to Hudson to be a better man, to be a better Christian, to be a better person, a better father, a better husband, a better grandfather.”
He said he knew all who came through the playground would be touched in some way by his grandson.
Christian Foschi, Hudson’s father, thanked a number of people for their support and efforts, including Ed Sievers, who hand-crafted the wooden sign reading “Hudson’s Playground” that stands above its entrance.
“This would not have happened without you,” Christian Foschi said, standing with his wife, Jacqueline, and daughter, Jade.
“It means so much to all of us to know that generations of children will get the opportunity to play here,” Christian Foschi said, “to laugh here, to experience God here, and, in doing so, to learn a little about the courageous, beautiful, intelligent and loving child of God whose namesake welcomes them here each day.”
The pastor offered a prayer, and Hudson’s family cut a light-blue ribbon beneath the sign bearing the child’s name in blue letters.
Visit hudsonstrong.org for more information about the Hudson Strong Foundation.
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