Special party planned for special child

Photo Provided In this image posted on Facebook, Jacob Murphy stands near his Belmont home. A special celebration of his 9th birthday is planned Saturday, and everyone is invited to attend.



Managing Editor

BETHESDA — This Saturday, it’s time to head to Epworth Park and party like you’re turning 9.

That’s exactly what Jacob Murphy of Belmont plans to do — but he has no idea just how special his birthday party is going to be. It’s a surprise for Jacob, and everyone is invited to join him as he celebrates.

Taylore Frasnelly of Morristown is helping to organize the event. She got involved after she heard that no one attended a party hosted by the special needs child when he turned 8. Twiggy McNeil, a mutual friend of Frasnelly and Jacob’s mother, Jennifer, told her about the situation, and they decided that this year was going to be different.

The party plan started with Jennifer Murphy simply inviting people who visited her workplace to join her and Jacob for pizza and cake in the park. They were not requesting gifts; instead, they were looking forward to a celebration with some new friends. But once Frasnelly got involved and made a Facebook post on the Morristown VFD’s page, she said things “snowballed” and grew into a much more elaborate affair.

So far, more than 46,000 people have seen that post, and some have been sending well wishes to Jacob from as far away as Tennessee, Texas, Arizona and the Carolinas. But local residents and organizations have reached out as well, offering their help to make it a special day for Jacob.

Frasnelly said the Morristown and Spirit of ’76 VFDs are set to bring fire engines to the park. Frasnelly added that the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department, where she works, will be bringing a cruiser, as will police departments from Belmont and Bethesda. The Ohio Department of Transportation District 11 and Bill’s Towing & Recovery are bringing big trucks, and the Ohio Valley Batman and Your Friendly Valley-Wide Spider-Man will take part.

Frasnelly said Braido Memorials, Shugert Farms and Amy Latham — State Farm Insurance are sponsoring the event. She added that AAA provided four tickets to the Columbus Zoo, and some local individuals are donating to the cause as well.

“A big focal point of this is how great our community is within the Ohio Valley,” Frasnelly said. “They really come out to support a child, and he’ll remember this for the rest of life. … This community he’s growing up in loves him.”

Plans call for the vehicles to line up near Mama Bea’s store on Lake Street in Bethesda and then parade to the park. Everything gets underway at 4 p.m. Saturday, and the public is invited. There will be pizza, cupcakes and a sheet cake to share.

Children can spend time exploring the vehicles at the park, and there will be fishing poles and bait available for use at the lake. No gifts are necessary.

Jacob actually turned 9 on Thursday. According to information Frasnelly gathered from his mother, he likes building and inventing things and loves science. She said a medical condition that affected him when he was very young left him with a permanent injury and some special needs.

Anyone who would like to send Jacob a card can mail it to: P.O. Box 230, Belmont, OH 43718. To get involved in any other way, call 740-296-4683.

Frasnelly stressed that she could not have organized such a big event without the immediate and positive responses she received from community members. She said once she made that Facebook post, many people began to contact her to see how they could help.

“The caring hearts in our community is what made this possible,” she said.

Frasnelly urges everyone to come to the party on Saturday, but she hopes nobody will show Jacob his picture in the paper or tell him about details of the event.

“Don’t forget, this is a surprise for Jacob!” she said.