Community responds to damaged statue at Melaina's Magical Playla - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Community responds to damaged statue at Melaina's Magical Playland

(Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)
Sweet Melaina passed away in 2009. (Source: The Cunningham Family) Sweet Melaina passed away in 2009. (Source: The Cunningham Family)

People across the Heartland are working together to raise money for a statue for Melaina Cunningham that was damaged after it went missing from Melaina's Magical Playland at the Cape County Park.

It was recovered on Sunday, Jan. 8, but it was broken into many pieces.

Officers with the Cape Girardeau Police Department took a 16-year-old into custody in connection to the crime.

When we first posted the story on Facebook, hundreds of people shared the story in hopes of finding the statue.

Then, people started sharing it again when it was found. Some were disgusted at the condition in which it was found, while others expressed gratitude that it had been located.

The community pulled together to show their appreciation and offered their support to the Cunningham family.

One person decided to take that a step further and made a Go Fund Me page for donations to help get the statue fixed.

"I saw it and it just broke my heart," Mitchell Glueck said. "I know this isn't the first time something has happened there. I couldn't get over the fact that someone would do that. I know it's just a kid that did it but, and we've all been there, but it's still kind of the principal of the matter."

Glueck felt compelled to help out. He started the page with a goal of $5,000 to help with the costs of fixing or replacing the statue.

As of 1 p.m. on Monday, the donations reached $2,555.

"I just had the urge. I was sitting on the couch with my wife and I read the news that the statue had been found and I saw the pictures," Mitchell added. "It just really hit me kind of weird and I was like, 'I'm going to set me up a Go Fund Me account and let's try to get this taken care of.'"

Mitchell said he feels a lot of people wanted to show their support for the Cunningham family for several reasons. One being that the statue was in memory of Melaina. Another reason being that it was a fixture of the playland where so many people take their kids to play and share stories about Melaina.

"It just warms my soul to know that they're still good people out there," Mitchell said. "It restores my faith in humanity a little bit."

As of now, it is undetermined if the statue will be fixed or replaced altogether.

As for the community, Mitchell feels that what happened to the statue pulled on the heart-strings of many and they want to see it back where it belongs.

"It has a lot of value and meaning to that family, as well as everyone that goes to that playground and sees it," Mitchell said. "It's there for a reason. The playground was put there for a reason and I think it needs to stay there."

Mitchell doesn't have any direct involvement with the Cunningham family or the statue itself. However, he feels Melaina has affected him and his family's life for the better and wants to continue bringing his children to the playground.

Mitchell has two children, including a three-year-old daughter.

"Anytime we pull up there and she sees that statue, she knows that we're going to this playground. And she loves it!" Mitchell explained. "Just the memory, you see it and I've never lost a child but I can only imagine what that means to that family."

The money raised through the Go Fund Me page will go towards repairs or replacement for the statue. Any money left over will go towards security, maintenance and improvements to the playland.

Melaina's Magical Playland was built in the memory of Melaina Cunningham, the daughter of KFVS anchor Jeff Cunningham and his wife, Andrea. Melaina passed away due to complications from nemaline myopathy, a neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness.

Finding it difficult to find a playground that was accessible to Melaina, the park was designed to be available for all children of all abilities. It opened in 2013.

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