“You can’t go more than two blocks without seeing pinwheels,” said Manhasset resident Jacqueline Franchetti.
On Saturday, Pinwheels for Prevention in the Parks began to mark the beginning of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Elected officials, students and families planted 744 pinwheels at Blumenfeld Family Park in Port Washington and Mary Jane Davies Green in Manhasset, where Kyra Franchetti loved to play. The event was held by Kyra’s Champions, the child safety advocacy group founded by Jacqueline Franchetti in response to a tragedy.
On July 27, 2016, 2-year-old Kyra’s father shot her twice in the back while she was sleeping at his Fairfax, Virginia, home on an unsupervised, court-sanctioned visit. He then set the house on fire and shot himself to death.
It’s an event that puts at the forefront a lot of conversations that don’t happen often but need to, Franchetti said.
“People don’t want to talk about child abuse. It’s a scary topic to talk about,” Franchetti said. “But if you don’t talk about it, you can easily end up in my situation living with its consequences. It’s vital we have these conversations and do so in a constructive way, and this is an excellent opportunity for that.”
After Kyra was killed, Franchetti founded Kyra’s Champions and the Kyra Franchetti Foundation, whose mission is to protect children in custody cases from being ordered by a court into the home of an abusive parent.
The 744 pinwheels honor 20 children, who like Kyra were murdered by a parent during a child custody case, divorce or separation in the last five years and the 725 deaths of New York children in the last decade that were kept hidden by Child Protective Services, according to the Albany Times Union.
“Looking at how many people are getting involved in our community and supporting our efforts, it’s truly beautiful and magical,” Franchetti said. “We’re thankful for everyone’s support.”
On Monday, what would have been Kyra’s eighth birthday, pinwheels in groups of eight were sold to honor her memory. That night, Jacqueline and Kyra were each honored by the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Department with a donation. Every year, the department selects a charity to support in the name of Gloria McGrath, a former president.
Franchetti is both grateful and thankful for the community and supporters of Kyra’s Champions, specifically mentioning North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena and Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey for their support.
“These pinwheels are a fitting tribute to celebrate and honor Kyra’s life and legacy, and we are proud to partner with Kyra’s Champions and Ms. Franchetti once again,” Lurvey said in a statement. “Each of the 744 pinwheels at Mary Jane Davies Green, Blumenfeld Park, and Clark Botanic Garden will honor the memory of the children who tragically lost their lives due to child abuse. Kyra’s Champions is a wonderful group dedicated to child safety and advocacy by bringing attention to children who are at risk of family violence.”
The pinwheels planted over the weekend will remain in place until April 18, Franchetti said.