South Colonie and Where Angels Play Foundation announce build date for all abilities playground at Saddlewood Elementary

Playground to be built in honor of former Saddlewood Elementary student Charlie Fernandez who lost her battle with cancer in 2021; playground to feature areas for children with visual impairments

Playground build set to begin on June 14; Ribbon cutting event to be held June 17

group of people pose for a photo
South Colonie and Where Angels Play Foundation announces the build date for all abilities playground at Saddlewood Elementary during a press event on Monday, Jan. 30 at the Midway Fire Department.

South Colonie Central School District announced today new details about the building of an all-ability playground in honor of Charlie Fernandez, a former Saddlewood Elementary school student who sadly lost her courageous battle with neuroblastoma in April of 2021. 

Through the collaboration with the Fernandez family, the national foundation Where Angels Play and other area organizations like Broadview Federal Credit Union, Hannaford, and the Community Foundation of the Greater Capital Region, a new all-ability playground will be built on the grounds of South Colonie’s Saddlewood Elementary this June. 

“Charlie meant so much to our school community and her family wanted to create something special in her honor but also have it benefit the Saddlewood Elementary students and our community at large,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Perry. “This is a perfect example of the kindness and consideration we receive after establishing these deep connections with our students and families. We are excited to partner with Charlie’s family on this special project and welcome our community to view its progress and utilize this area in the way that Charlie would have intended. To have fun and enjoy the outdoors together.”

During a press event held this morning, Dr. David Perry announced the fundraising total to date – $102,417.  The build dates were also announced.  The volunteer-led playground build is set to begin on June 14 with the official ribbon-cutting ceremony to be held on June 17.

Additionally, the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism has linked up with Where Angels Play through their mutual sponsor Jersey Mike’s subs, and will be providing special needs panels for the playground so that children on the spectrum will also be accommodated.

 “We at the Flutie Foundation are honored to be a part of the great project, in honor of Charlie Fernandez. We believe that all children of all ability levels deserve the right to play in an inclusive setting with their peers. We are excited that this playground will bring this vision to reality,” said Nick Savarese who serves as executive director of the Flutie Foundation.

Over the years, the Where Angels Play Foundation has worked with families across the northeast to establish playground areas like the one proposed, most notably in honor of students and staff impacted by the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy in Newtown, CT.

The Fernandez family has partnered with the Where Angels Play Foundation to develop the fundraising to complete the project. More information about this community-based foundation can be found here:

Individuals who are interested in volunteering for the build can contact Sarah Norton at

About Where Angels Play Foundation
The Where Angels Play Foundation was founded and its first tribute initiative “The Sandy Ground Project” was completed in just 18 months. Twenty-six playgrounds were constructed along the coast of three states and built by firefighters, police officers, teachers, school administrators and community volunteers. Each playground reflects the personality of the teacher or child for whom it is named and the project had unanimous approval and blessings of all 26 families.

These very same Newtown families have chosen to “pay it forward” by helping to continue our initiative to build playgrounds in needy communities across the country. More information about the organization can be found here: