Playground to be built honoring South Knoxville boy who died of cancer

Kenzie Self (right) and her best friend Cole Cross who died of cancer last year.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – It started with a letter a six-year-old girl recently handed Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. The letter inspired a playground to be built at Mooreland Heights Elementary honoring her best friend who passed away from cancer last year.

“Last year my best friend Cole died,” Kenzie Self read from her heartfelt letter.

Kenzie Self's heartfelt letter to Mayor Tim Burchett.
Kenzie Self’s heartfelt letter to Mayor Tim Burchett.

Cole Cross was her lifelong best friend. The little boy was diagnosed with cancer but full of life the whole battle.

“Cole was kind, sweet, funny, brave. I love him,” read Kenzie.

Cole passed away in January 2014. In her letter, Kenzie wrote a simple request: “Mayors can make special days to celebrate people. Can you do this for Cole?” Cole’s mother, Jessica Cross, was brought to tears hearing this letter.

“It’s heartbreaking, but it’s also heartwarming,” she said.

The letter touched Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett as well. “We thought maybe a playground would be a nice thing to do and honor this little boy,” he said.

Kenzie Self
Kenzie Self

“I think Cole would love that. I think it’s a perfect way to let his memory live on and allow kids to enjoy something new and I think he would’ve just loved it,” said Jessica Cross.

Officials hope the community will help in making this playground a reality.

“We can do it probably for about $35,000,” said Mayor Burchett.

The playground will be a way to always remember Cole, who loved to play. vlcsnap-2015-07-10-17h37m40s83

“He’s everywhere,” said Cross. “I wish he would come back down to Earth and be a first grader with me or a second grader,” said Kenzie.

The playground hasn’t broken ground yet, but there are plans to have a monument in Cole’s honor as well. If all goes well, kids should be able to play on the new playground by some time in September.

Mayor Burchett says so far, roughly $10,000 has been raised, if you would like to help donations can be made to:

Mooreland Heights PTA
5315 Magazine Road
Knoxville, TN  37920.

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