Local family raising money to renovate playground in memory of their daughter

Sienna Palkovic died unexpectedly

SAN DIEGO - A Rancho Penasquitos family is trying to make their community a better place for children in memory of their little girl and they used a booth at an Easter egg hunt to do it.

While children were literally jumping for joy at the Rancho Penasquitos Easter Egg Hunt, little Sienna Palkovic no longer could.

"She was just a beautiful spirit … brought joy and happiness to everybody," said Sienna's mother, Jennifer Palkovic.

Jennifer cherishes the 16 months they had together.

"She was a perfectly healthy little toddler … playing and climbing and talking," said Jennifer.

But Sienna never woke up from her nap almost two years ago. It was ruled "sudden unexplained death in childhood," with no explanation and no answers.

In a 30-year period, 55 children in the county have died from it. The thought terrifies local parents.

"It makes you want to cry because when you have kids, you think about it … and you'd never think that it would ever happen to you and you hear it happening to other kids or other families and then you realize it's a real thing," said mother Andrea Hamilton.

A photo from the Easter before Sienna passed away shows her at the Rolling Hills Community Park, which was one of her favorite places to play.

"What gets you through is family, friends and community … and that's the piece that's really helped us to stay strong in all of this," said Jennifer.

So, they are trying to give back by raising money to breathe some life into the old park. They are hoping to add new equipment, more shade and better landscaping in what is called the Sienna's Playgarden project.

"It's somewhat inspirational and healing," said Jennifer. "This is our way of allowing Sienna's legacy of joy and play to live on."

So far, they have raised about $32,000 of the $200,000 they hope to raise.

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