YONKERS, N.Y. - Yonkers native Scott Williams, a writer and producer for CBS-TV's hit drama series "NCIS", is proud of his work in television but more apt to talk about Shane's Inspiration, a labor of love he co-founded with his wife Catherine Curry-Williams in 1997.
"Several months after losing Shane, we became aware of this glaring, unmet need with regard to playgrounds," Williams said of his son, who suffered from spinal muscular atrophy. "We firmly believe that his mission on earth was to deliver this message. Having fulfilled that mission, he moved on, leaving us to start a movement to correct a glaring inequity faced by disabled kids."
Williams says that movement is to create inclusive playgrounds and programs that unite children of all abilities. To date, his organization has raised several million dollars and built 44 parks -- 35 in Southern California and others in Colorado, Mexico and Canada with plans for more in the United States and abroad.
Williams, a graduate of Gorton High School and SUNY Cortland, now lives in Los Angeles. His TV credits include "Third Watch", "Bones", "Castle" and "NCIS". His first "NCIS" episode of the season 'Recovery' airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on CBS.
Williams says part of the motivation for Shane's Inspiration was the great time he had in local parks and on sports fields in Yonkers.
"I know what playing in the park and playing sports at Gorton meant to me as a kid," he said. "The idea that disabled kids might never know that feeling didn't sit well with us at all. Had Shane lived, he would have been confined to a wheelchair and therefore would have no local playground where he could actually play with other kids."
Williams said parks considered "wheelchair accessible" often consist of a cement ramp leading to a sand moat that surrounds the play equipment, which makes going to the park a sad experience for disabled kids.
"The idea behind our playgrounds is that every child gets to play," Williams said. "We founded Shane's Inspiration with the belief that it's the most fundamental birthright of every child to simply play in the park. Seeing children of all abilities play at the parks that he inspired is always a moving experience."
Members of the cast and crew of NCIS joined the Williams family in September to celebrate the 15th annual Shane's Inspiration Walk & Roll.
"Were fortunate that our cause is easily embraced by everyone," Williams said. "When you donate money or time, you actually get to see the result of your donation. Our supporters get to visit our parks and say "I helped build this."
To learn more about Shane's Inspiration, log on to the website at www.shanesinspiration.org.
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