For the past eight years Cindy Campbell has made sure no one forgot her 5-year-old son Ty.
At Magnolia Playground, off the Long Beach boardwalk, a statue of her son has stood, unblemished, on a rock fashioned after the Long Beach jetties for the boy who died nine years ago from a cancerous brain tumor.
The statue was damaged shortly after the Fourth of July and pulled out of its fragile base.
For a moment frozen in time, the bronze statue of her son "Super Ty" was jumping between rocks holding his hat. The statue was dedicated and blessed at the playground when the park was rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy.
The family who now live in upstate Dutchess County, came to visit the statue whenever they returned to Long Beach where Ty grew up, including last week for the Fourth of July weekend, always looking for trinkets like a lollipop or a balloon left behind.
"It’s really special. it’s like we’re visiting him and get to talk to him," Campbell said. "It’s always a nice surprise when someone recognizes him and leaves something behind. He was a little boy, we didn’t know what was appropriate for our hearts and family and friends, but this feels permanent, so we can pay tribute."
She has maintained a blog started to chronicle her son’s illness and now devotes her life to helping families battling pediatric cancer.
City officials plan to work with the family to attempt to remove the statue until it can be repaired.
Long Beach city workers said the statue was damaged when someone may have been hanging off it or pulled it out of its base, damaging the rebar holding it in place.
There were no cameras facing the playground and city workers said they need outside experts to repair the statue.
"I don’t want it to fall or for the statue itself to get damaged," Long Beach Parks Commissioner Joe Brand said. "It was not vandalized or defaced in any way. We want to figure out how to fix it and put it back there."
Campbell said she learned of the damaged statue from a stranger who messaged her online and then asked a friend to check on it. She said she is frantically trying to make it back to Long Beach to check on the statue and keep it safe.
"I want to get down there as quickly as possible and I hate the idea of it hanging there. It feels very vulnerable and more damage could be done," Campbell said. "I want to do what the city feels safest to secure it again. It feels like a piece of my heart is taken away."