SACO — Five-year-old Eleanor Clare Paye, “Elle” as she was known to friends and family, was full of life. One of her favorite things to do, said her father, David, was to play on the playgrounds at Fairfield School, which she attended, and at Young School.

Two years ago on Oct. 13, Elle lost her battle with a rare form of pediatric cancer, pleuropulmonary blastoma, which affects only about 20 children each year in the United States, said David Paye.

To continue her inspirational legacy beyond her death, the family created the Eleanor Clare Paye Charitable Fund and because of her love of playgrounds, the fund’s board of directors decided to make a generous donation to help Young School purchase new playground equipment.

As a result, the Parks & Recreation Department’s Playground Committee decided to name the playground the Eleanor Clare Paye Memorial Playground.

On Saturday, the anniversary of her death, about 80 community members gathered to put together a new playground set at Young School on North Street.

David Paye was among those on Saturday who helped put together the new slide, climbing wall and bridge. New swings and a merry-go-round were installed earlier in the year.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said David Paye about having the new playground named in his daughter’s honor.

“She loved to play on playgrounds. She would have been just tickled pink about this,” he said.

Although the anniversary of Elle’s death is a difficult day for Paye and other family members, “Things like this help,” he said.

“We always knew she was going to make a difference in the world,” said Paye.

She will be known and remembered for years by the children who use the playground, he said.

John Sherman, deputy director of the Parks & Recreation Department, said the majority of the funds to purchase the new playground equipment came from a $15,000 Let’s Play grant from the nonprofit organization KaBOOM!. Saco received one of only five grants that were awarded around the country.

One of the grant requirements was to have community members assemble the equipment, said Sherman.

Additional funds came from businesses, organizations, parents, grandparents and members from parent teacher organizations at other schools.

The old equipment was 21 years old, he said. It was made of pressure-treated wood and no longer met state requirements. In addition, parts of the old structure had to be removed over the years.

The new equipment is made of metal and PVC-free plastic, which is more environmentally friendly, said Sherman.

“This will provide a fun, safe place for children,” said Donna Sewell, a member of the playground committee.

“Kids have been counting down the days” until the playground was complete, said Kerra Cartright, a kindergarten teacher at Young School.

She said it will be enjoyed by the more than 300 students attending Young School and many other area children who like to play at the popular playground on Route 112.

If his daughter were still alive, said Paye, “she’d be here every day.” He said it helps him “knowing that plenty of kids are going to enjoy this playground.”

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 324 or [email protected].

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