FALMOUTH, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A home in Falmouth has become a popular destination for families looking to go on vacation during difficult times. "Tommy's Place" was created to give kids battling cancer something to look forward to and a day to smile about.
WBZ's Chris Fama spoke with the Founder of Tommy's Place Foundation, Inc. Tim O'Connell about the amusement house's success and the motivations behind it.
"It's part of this whole healing that goes on, there's medicine but then there's this kind of medicine," O'Connell said, "You can dream it might happen but actually seeing it happen is amazing."
O'Connell said that every weekend since the opening of Tommy's Place in July, a family with a sick child has occupied the house. The organization said the vacation home is booked through 2022. The growing waiting list encouraged O'Connell to begin seeking for investors to fund more Tommy's Place locations.
"I'm waiting for that benefactor that I know is out there, and for them to see this is the impact they're having every week. We could be servicing 300 families a year," O'Connell said.
According to the non-profit's website, each family can visit the eleven-bedroom magical vacation home for up to a week, free of charge. Tommy's Place said that every room of the house was individually designed, and includes features like a game room, crafts room, home theatre, with an in-ground swimming pool coming soon.
Outside, officials said the house has a basketball and beach volleyball court, corn hole, horseshoes, giant chess and checkers, ping pong, an outdoor television, a fire pit, and a 1951 fire truck.
The organization said that the name "Tommy's Place" comes from the town legend Tommy Leonard, the founder of the Falmouth Road Race. Leonard was a former runner, United States Marine, and bartender at the Quarterdeck Restaurant, officials said.
"Orphaned in his youth, this is my way of giving Tommy the “home” that he didn't have when he was growing up - allowing his generosity and legacy to live on forever in Falmouth by "welcoming" these courageous young children and families into his “home," O'Connell said. Leonard passed away in 2019, but Tommy's Place memorializes his fun-loving spirit and generous heart, the organization said.
O'Connell said that Tommy's Place began after he gifted an 8-year-old Grifyn and his family a dream Martha's Vineyard vacation. Seeing the effect that experience had on Grifyn and his entire family, and following the boy's death shortly after, O'Connell said that he was determined to open a vacation home for kids dealing with cancer in his memory.
Interested donators can find more about how to help maintain, sustain, and grow Tommy's Place, here.
WBZ's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports.