Build­ing play­grounds for sick chil­dren

The Globe and Mail (Alberta Edition) - - REPORT ON BUSINESS - PAUL WALDIE GIV­ING BACK [email protected]­and­mail.com

The donors

Rob Ni­colucci and staff at RN De­sign Ltd.

The gift: $20,000 plus build­ing play­grounds for chil­dren with life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses The cause: Mil­lion Dol­lar Smiles

Afew years ago, Rob Ni­colucci was talk­ing to his cousin who told him about an in­no­va­tive non-profit group called Mil­lion Dol­lar Smiles, which builds play struc­tures for chil­dren fac­ing life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses.

Mr. Ni­colucci was in­trigued and thought that get­ting in­volved with the group might be a good team-build­ing ex­er­cise for his staff at RN De­sign Ltd., an ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign com­pany he founded based in Vaughan, Ont. “We talk about it at work and it’s re­ally taken on a life of its own within our of­fice,” Mr. Ni­colucci re­called.

In the past four years, Mr. Ni­colucci and a team of staff from RN have built five play­grounds for chil­dren across the Toronto area.

The chil­dren and their fam­i­lies are se­lected by Mil­lion Dol­lar Smiles and a team of about 20 vol­un­teers from RN spends a sum­mer day build­ing the play­ground in the fam­ily’s back­yard. It’s usu­ally a com­plete sur­prise for the child and RN cov­ers the cost of each build.

Mr. Ni­colucci said the pro­gram has been so pop­u­lar at RN and three af­fil­i­ated com­pa­nies that he’s now or­ga­niz­ing two builds a year.

“You can’t even imag­ine the ex­pres­sion on some of these kids’ faces,” he said.

“It’s tear-jerk­ing be­cause they are so happy.”

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