A memorial playground was dedicated Thursday morning to a young Astros fan killed by a rare amoeba.
Josiah’s Place is officially open to students at Madge Griffith Elementary. Students at the elementary school in Clute have been enjoying the new play space since November, but on Thursday, the school had a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The playground is in Houston Astros orange and blue and was designed with a baseball theme to commemorate the life of an astronomical fan, Josiah McIntyre.
Josiah’s mother, Maria Castillo, said the playground fits her son perfectly. The 6-year-old loved the Astros and being outdoors.
“It’s hard to imagine that this playground could describe somebody so well, but I don’t think Josiah could have picked anything different,” she said. “It describes him perfectly.”
Josiah died in September of 2020 after encountering a brain-eating amoeba found in Lake Jackson’s water supply.
His first-grade teacher Amanda Mohrman wanted to honor Josiah’s legacy with a playground and started an online fundraiser to raise the $65,000 needed for the project. Mohrman also reached out to The Astros Foundation last March, hoping to team up, and was surprised when Twila Carter -- the foundation’s executive director -- surprised the school with a check for the full amount.
Carter called the ribbon-cutting ceremony a full-circle moment.
“It’s hard to describe what it means to be able to even be a small part of something like this,” said Carter. “The joy of his classmates and to know his legacy will live on in the school.”
Josiah’s mother said the dedication was bittersweet.
“As a little kid growing up playing baseball, we always told him that he was going to be somebody and that everybody would know his name one day, and I hate that this is the way they know his name,” she said through tears. “But, you know, his little life has done so much.”
Castillo said she’ll continue to share what happened to Josiah in hopes of raising awareness about the deadly brain-eating amoeba.
The elementary school plans to add a memorial plaque to the playground in the near future.