St. Vincent hospital officials gathered at the St. Vincent Center for Children -- where the playground will be added - on Dec. 19 to celebrate the groundbreaking of the St. Vincent Patricia Browning Stone Indoor Sensory Playground.

St. Vincent President Dan Parod said the new playground will be an environment where children with sensory processing disorders can come and be themselves.

"...And learn and grow and develop and become healthy adults," he said.

Parod said the holidays are the perfect time to start work on the playground.

"This season, we often think about gifts and I can't think of a better gift then the gift we're here to celebrate today," he said. "Now the mission of St. Vincent is one we are very proud of and it's a mission about caring for all persons, but with special interests to those that are poor and vulnerable."

Parod said St. Vincent has a particular focus on helping children in the Tri-State area.

"We have a vision, which is to be a regional center of excellence for pediatric services here in the tri-state area," he said. "And we strive every day to provide high quality, coordinated, comprehensive care that's child friendly and patient centered in a patient centered environment."

Parod said the new playground will fulfill that goal.

"It is a special play for play and healing for some of our community's most vulnerable children," he said. "We believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn and to grow and to play in an environment that provides them with comfort and the ability to be themselves."

The funds to build the new playground were donated by 1973 Memorial High School graduates, Bill and Mary Stone. Bill Stone is the CEO of Connecticut based, SS&C Technologies, which also operates a large office in Evansville.

Even though he and his family have moved away, Bill Stone said Evansville will always have a special place in his heart.

"You know I am one out of nine kids and we grew up here," he said. "And I've been lucky enough to have some success and success makes you stronger and you know so when you're stronger, you should help the weaker. And nothing is more precious than our children."

Bill Stone said his friend Bob Fields at Old National Bank reminded him how important helping out Evansville is.

"He always says this, 'Evansville just needs a shot of confidence,' " he said. "And this is one of them."

Bill Stone said the playground is named after his mother, Patricia Browning Stone, who, too, is a graduate of Memorial High School.

"My mom, Patricia Browning Stone, was the embodiment of a strong successful woman," Stone said. "She cared deeply for children and was taken from us at a young age. We are certain she is watching from above and she would be very proud to be associated with the fine people who will make this fabulous facility a reality."

Marisa Patwa is a graduate of the University of Evansville with a degree in journalism and minor in political science.

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