MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Raising a big amount of money hasn’t come easy for one Woodbury mom who’s trying to do something special in honor of the daughter she lost.

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Madison Claire Millington died August 2004 when she was only 2 years old. When she was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, her mom, Dana Millington, was told that Madison Claire only had one year to live.

Almost eight years later, Millington calls her youngest daughter Emerson a miracle. Emerson had a one in four chance of inheriting the same deadly muscular disease that took her sister, Madison Claire.

To ensure that Emerson wasn’t born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Millington and her husband used In Vitro Fertilization and a process which tests the eggs for genetic abnormalities before they’re fertilized.

The time spent with Emerson is special considering the difficulties of parenting a child with SMA.

“(Madison) had her special stroller. We had oxygen tanks we had to take with,” said Millington. “Even going to the park, we couldn’t go through the sand and rocks for me to also be with my other two children.”

It was that specific challenge that compelled Millington to help others. After Madison died, she made it a priority to raise enough money for a playground that every kid could use, in honor of her daughter.

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“Initially, I thought this was going to be such a needed thing that our community in the east metro doesn’t have and everybody would just jump on board, and it’s been tough,” she said.

After four years, the Madison Claire Foundation has raised a little more than half of the $650,000 needed.

“It’s going to be about 15,000-square feet and there will be rubber surfacing and the entire structure will be ramped,” said Millington. “The big thing I’d pushed for is that it was ramped from end to end.”

Dana knows there’s a lot of money left to raise, but it helps her to remember what Madison would’ve thought about that type of playground.

“She would’ve loved it,” said Millington. “She loved being around people. She would’ve had a good time.”

The City of Woodbury has donated the land for the playground which is next to the city’s sports complex. Members of the Minnesota Air National Guard have agreed to donate the labor.

Work on the playground is scheduled to begin this summer.

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