Nonprofit builds playground on Lido Key to honor deceased brothers

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SARASOTA – Where Angels Play Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to building playgrounds for victims of tragedy chose to honor a Sarasota family who lost two children.

It hasn’t been easy for Maribeth and Rob Ditmars. In 2001, the couple lost their oldest son, Christopher, to a four-year battle against leukemia.

“He had friends everywhere. Christopher did not judge people. He loved people no matter what,” said Rob said.

It was an anticipated goodbye the 14-year-old’s parents weren’t ready for.

“Chris had a heaven encounter on his deathbed and shared it with us it was kind of like heaven was for real only; we didn’t get to keep him,” Maribeth said.

14 years later, they suffered another loss; Christopher’s brother, Jarrod.

“He went spearfishing and the day was bad…it was rough and the seas were very murky,” Rob said. A friend accidentally shot the 21-year-old in the head with a speargun.

“An hour after Jarrod left, I was looking down at myself and I felt no pain. I felt like a young kid,” Rob said, “I received a knock on the door and it was the police. I knew it right then, that he was  gone.”

Where Angels Play Foundation is lending a shoulder to the Ditmars.

Wednesday morning, volunteers from Where Angels Play will break ground at South Lido County Park to build a memorial playground in honor of Christopher and Jarrod.

“To leave a legacy of a playground with Jarrod and Christopher’s name on it for all the little children to play in the future was just so exciting and we’re so excited they chose us,” Rob said.

Where Angels Play Foundation is hosting a fundraiser Saturday from 1 to 5 at Evie’s on Bee Ridge Road to raise money for the memorial playground.

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Jennifer Kveglis
Jennifer joined SNN in July of 2017. Born and raised in Mount Olive, New Jersey, she found her love for media as a lead anchor for her high school’s morning television program. She graduated from Castle High School in Newburgh, Indiana and extended her studies at the University of Tampa where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Arts. In college she interned for FOX 13 and City of Tampa Television. Her future plans are to utilize her film-making skills to provide a unique rendition of storytelling. Her love for the sunshine, beach and local area made it an easy decision to stay in SWFL after graduation. In her free time, Jennifer can be found at the gym or exploring vegan restaurants. She loves to travel and expose herself to new environments. She is excited to embrace a brand new city while making introductions with the local community. She owes her successes to her supportive family, friends, and mentors.