GREEN BAY, Wis. - Jack Natzke brought so much joy in his short time at Green Bay Trinity Lutheran School.
"Jack was hilarious. He always had a smile on his face," said family friend Maggie Hinz.
In September 2015, fresh into his Kindergarten year, the 5-year-old became seriously ill.
"We prayed for a miracle, but that wasn't the case," explained Renee Natzke.
Her son passed away just six days after he got sick. Theories on his death changed from viral meningitis to a rare brain degeneration. Renee says the exact cause remains a mystery to this day, but one thing is for sure.
"When you lose a child, you're afraid that he's going to be forgotten."
Jack's family, school, and community are determined to make sure his memory will live on. Currently, students only have a usually wet and muddy field to play in with no equipment. They thought a perfect way to honor Jack, who was active and loved sports, would be to build a playground bearing his name on school grounds. Help Us Build GB has raised nearly $23,000 of their $70,000 goal, but organizers are running into roadblocks.
"Although this is a playground being built in Jack's honor, it's on a church property, and a lot of places have policies where they can't donate to religious organizations," explained Hinz.
The committee is now asking the public to pitch in to help them realize their dream.
"There's 600 kids within walking distance under the age of 12 here, and so I think a lot of people are seeing what an impact this can make beyond just the borders of our school," Hinz said.
Family and friends say not only will the playground provide a safe space for kids to run, jump and slide, it will help heal their wounds by having a spot to forever celebrate Jack's life.
"I think it's going to be very, very fun, and it will remind me of Jack," said former classmate Maisie Hinz.
If enough funds are raised, organizers hope to dedicate the playground during the 2nd Annual Jack Natzke Memorial Kids Run on September 16th.
"It will be emotional," his mom said, "but yet something concrete for us to look at, for other kids to play on, is going to bring a lot of joy to our hearts as well."
Click here to learn how you can donate to the cause.