Like many in the area, Alecia Flood, a board member on the nonprofit Friends of the Zelienople-Harmony Park, was heartbroken to learn brothers Liam Bintrim, 3, and Declan McCullough, almost 1, were killed in a tragic car accident.
“Any mother, any grandparent, any person, who has a heard that story, it’s going to tear them up inside,” she said.
The boys were in the car with their mother, Elisabeth McCullough, and just a few miles from their home in Harmony Jan. 9 when their SUV spun out of control on icy Lower Harmony Road in Connoquenessing Township.
The vehicle skidded off the road and flipped over before striking a tree. McCullough, 32, survived the accident with minor injuries—her two young sons did not.
Members of the Friends of the Park have since decided to start a collection on behalf of the boys to buy two leaves on the “Tree of Life” located in the baby pool area of Zelienople’s community pool.
Featuring leaves of gold, silver and bronze (and priced at $500, $200 and $150 respectively), the pieces often are bought in honor of loved ones, Flood said.
“You can write whatever you want it to say on the leaves,” she said. “We attach them to the tree and it becomes a fixture.”
Flood said the nonprofit originally planned to use any remaining money left once the leaves were purchased to buy a 2013 pool membership for McCullough, her husband, Jason McCullough, and their other children, but an anonymous donor recently purchased a summer pass for the entire family.
Flood added having a memorial for Liam and Declan at the pool only is fitting. The family has been longtime members of the community pool, she said. Elisabeth McCullough’s sister also works at the pool’s snack bar.
“The little ones were so sweet,” Flood said of seeing the family during the summer months. “Little Liam was always running and jumping in the pool.”
Flood said Ryan Wharton, a sixth grader at Evans City Middle School and classmate of McCullough’s older son, Gavin, also is collecting for the cause. Flood said Ryan approached her about joining the project soon after the accident.
“When he first heard the news, he had asked his father, ‘How can we help this family?’” she said.
Flood said Ryan and his Sunday school classmates at Grace Community Church in Cranberry would be doing a fundraiser for the project. The sixth-grader also plans to approach his fellow students at Evans City Middle School to raise money for the leaves, Flood said.
If enough money is raised, Flood said the board might decide to purchases memorial “rocks” instead of leaves for the tree. The larger rocks are located at the base of the Tree of Life.
How You Can Participate:
To donate to the memorial, send a check made out to Friends of the Park with “Liam & Declan” in the memo line to PO Box 142, Zelienople, PA 16063. For more information on Friends of the Park, click here.
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