Peter Alden (Grigsby) lost his 10 year old adopted son, Gabriel, to a rare brain disease in 2013. Since that time, Peter has worked actively to get the laws in Florida changed. Due (in part) to his efforts at our state capital, Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is now officially part of the newborn screening panel. Recently a mother directly contacted Peter with a personal note. She wanted to thank him because her son was one of the first in Florida to benefit from early detection. Peter has one surviving adopted son, who tested negative for ALD. Nathan Grigsby is a healthy and thriving adult, who is in fact, realizing his lifelong dream of a career in the military.
Gabriel Grigsby, Gabriel’s playground and the legacy of play.
Gabriel’s playground is on the campus of the Church of St. Luke and St. Peter in St. Cloud Florida. It provides joy for children of all ages who come here. The playground is dedicated to Gabriel Grigsby (son of Peter Alden Grigsby) who passed away in July 2013 and was a gift provided by many people in the community, the church and particularly Peter and his ex-wife Dawn Grigsby. Gabriel’s playground continually inspires us to play and enjoy life to its fullest every day. One great blessing and inspiration of this playground is that in gratitude for it’s enjoyment of the children of St. Luke & St. Peter’s preschool and the students of Arts Thereafter Christian School for the arts raised money for their sister school, Good Shepherd Academy in Juba South Sudan to build a playground so that 350 students there could have the same gift of play Gabriels legacy has provided them.
History of Fundraising Efforts
In August 2019, Peter Alden was called to perform a gospel show and fundraiser for the playground at the church. The evening gospel show and dinner completely sold out and we added an additional matinee performance. Generosity was overwhelming. Thanks to the efforts of and donations of hundreds of people, proper excavating of the land took place so that the playground will no longer have flooding issues. New borders and new mulch for ground cover were also placed. A few new pieces of playground equipment were purchased and placed. Special thanks to Kevin at Total Image Signs & Graphics in Deltona Florida (407-688-4321) for donating a beautiful sign for the playground that will be put in place as soon as possible. This sign invites children of all ages to play and has a photo of Gabriel. Thank you to Kathie for connecting us with Kevin!
How You Can Help
First, enjoy the music of Peter Alden and attend our shows. Next, give generously to support Gabriel’s playground through donations. Be sure to note in the memo that your check is designated for Gabriel’s Playground!!
Gabriel’s playground was built in 2014 and has seen a great amount of use. This means the playground itself wears down and will constantly be in need of loving refreshment and upkeep.
This benefit will also allow us to raise several thousand dollars for the next step. An awning is needed to protect the playground from the elements – and will cost several thousand dollars.
Checks can be made out to
Church of St. Luke and St. Peter
You can hand them to Pete or Krista at shows OR you can mail the check directly to the church:
Church of St. Luke and St. Peter
2745 Canoe Creek Rd, St Cloud, FL 34772
Again.. this is important!! Be sure to note in the memo that your check is designated for Gabriel’s Playground!!
If we are made aware of the check or cash donation – and have your mailing address – you will get a thank you note from Peter Alden in the mail.
Tell a friend! This information can also be shared with your friends if you believe in our cause and making sure we continue to have a place of play and fun for all children on this campus and in the St. Cloud community.
In 2011 when Gabriel was 9 years old Peter Alden and his wife at the time – began to notice a change in Gabriel. Before that time he was a normal, healthy and joyful kid! Check out this video of Gabe’s dance moves HERE!
They knew something was wrong when Gabe’s coordination and ability to concentrate seemed to be diminished. His eyes seemed to drift away at times and really Gabriel just did not seem himself.
Several visits to the doctor and finally a visit to a specialist – revealed what no parent wants to find out.
Gabriel had a rare genetic disease and this disease would take his life.
Over the course of a year and a half this is exactly what ALD did. At the age 10 – Gabe lost his 17 month battle with Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) on July 10, 2013.
But what ALD never did was take away Gabriel’s spirit. Although the last few months of his life Gabriel was in a wheelchair and physically disabled he never lost his spirit of joy, his spirit of love and his spirit of play. Through his battle with ALD Gabriel inspired our spirit as well and through the establishment of Gabriel’s playground – children for many years to come can receive the legacy of joy, love and play through the establishment and continued care of Gabriel’s playground.
WATCH “A LITTLE SUNSHINE” VIDEO HERE
Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, is a deadly genetic disease that affects 1 in 18000 people. It most severely affects boys and men. This brain disorder destroys myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds the brain’s neurons – the nerve cells that allow us to think and to control our muscles. It knows no racial, ethnic or geographic barriers. The most devastating for of ALD appears in childhood, generally between the ages of four and ten years old. Normal, healthy boys suddenly begging to regress. At first, they simply show behavioural problems, such as withdrawal or difficulty concentrating. Gradually, as the disease ravages their brain, their symptoms grow worse, including blindness and deafness, seizures, loss of muscle control and progressive dementia. This relentless downward spiral leads to either earth or permanent disability, usually within 2 to 5 years from diagnosis. Early detection is key because the disease has no cure if not identified early enough. That is the case of the Grigsbys, who took Gabriel’s
difficulty and inattention in school, early signs of the disease, as just a part of growing up.
During the later part of Gabriel’s life and for many years after Gabriel lost his battle to ALD – Peter Alden continued work not only for his own son Gabriel, but for newborns in the state of Florida. He was on a mission. Despite many setbacks, May of 2018 brought an amazing milestone and victory in newborn testing. In part because of Peter Alden’s continued work and campaigning, the state of Florida announced that all boys born in our state will be screened for ALD. With God’s grace no boy born in Florida will ever have to face what Gabriel did with such strength and bravery. Read more about the announcement at HERE
We got a note from Carrie Cragun-Atchison who told us her son was the first boy in Florida to be identified – just 3 days after newborn screening began. Peter wrote her back to say that Gabriel was a wonderful son and we know he is smiling from heaven because he was able to help her family. Peter ended his note with “God Bless you all, and I wish for you many years of joy with your son!”