A first of its kind inclusive complex, the RWJBarnabas Health Field of Dreams, will open Saturday in Toms River, New Jersey.
The grand opening of the $3.6 million facility comes after nearly five years of planning and pandemic-related delays and challenges. The Toms River complex will focus on serving children with physical and social disabilities.
While the opening of the complex is a triumph, it all started as a horrifying nightmare. Christian Kane was driving with his 19-month-old son, Gavin, when a beer truck barreled into his car near Toms River High School North. As a result, Gavin had a traumatic brain injury, a right front temporal stroke and a complete skull fracture.
Today, Gavin is 11 years old. He’s in a wheelchair most of the time, and he communicates primarily through an iPad. But he is an otherwise ordinary preteen cracking jokes at his parents’ expense and wanting to play with his friends.
Gavin Kane at the RWJBarnabas Health Field of Dreams.
But it hasn’t been easy.
“He wanted to do everything that all the other kids were doing,” said Mary Kane, Gavin’s mother. “But because of his lack of strength to hold up his head, he was very limited.”
As Gavin grew, she found it increasingly difficult to take him to playgrounds and have him participate in sports. The Kanes have six children.
“It was very challenging, almost impossible, for me to get him on a swing or a slide or anything like that, so he didn’t. We could go to the playgrounds and he could watch, and that’s not fun,” Mary Kane said.
Five years ago, Gavin’s parents grew tired of watching him sit on the sidelines. They dreamed up a playground and sports complex where kids of all abilities could play and participate in physical activities together. “To be able to do things they didn’t think they’d be ever able to do,” said Christian Kane.
Christian Kane, an Advanced Placement statistics teacher at Toms River High School North, poured everything he had into this project. The $3.6 million dollar facility would require major sponsors, state aid, and grants and fundraising, in addition to specialized equipment to accommodate kids of all abilities.
A young girl tests out the new playground for the first time.
Christian Kane said the biggest challenge came when the pandemic nearly threatened the entire project. It meant a major increase in prices for raw materials and a shortage of construction workers.
“Because of inflation, something that costs $4 that was going to be donated now is $12 to $13,” he said. “All of a sudden, I’m getting these bills that I know somehow I’m going to have to fund.”
Now that the complex is ready, Christian Kane said he’s been getting inquiries from groups from all over the state looking to visit the facility. The Kanes gave CNBC a first look at the facility ahead of its official opening. Gavin and some of his closest friends also got the chance to visit the complex for the first time.
“You can hear the kids’ pure enjoyment in the background and you knew that that’s what they needed,” said Christian Kane.
The 3.5-acre, state-of-the-art complex features a basketball court made of special materials to accommodate wheelchairs, a miniature golf course, a baseball diamond and a playground that caters to children with walkers, wheelchairs and more. It also has a community garden, pavilion, snack bar and a quiet corner that looks off into the woods.
“You know when you come here that you’re not going to be stared at and you’re not going to be looked at and you know you’re coming here for pure enjoyment and fun,” said Christian Kane.
Doctors say the benefits of such a facility are crucial.
Gavin and Christian Kane at the new RWJBarnabas Health FIELD OF DREAMS.
“The opportunity to be playing, learning and showing off one’s abilities outside of the hospital is just as important sometimes as the medications and therapies that occur within the hospital,” said Matt McDonald, CEO of Children’s Specialized Hospital, which treats Gavin.
As Gavin tested out the facility for the first time, he showed pure joy being around other children who were similar to him. For parents, it’s a place to let their guard down and socialize with other families going though similar challenges.
Christian Kane said he hopes this is just the start. He wants others to see the importance and success of his complex and build facilities just like it.
He passes the site of his crash every day on his way to work, but he said driving near the new Field of Dreams makes his days a little bit better.
“Driving past it and seeing kids and adults playing here,” he said. “All the hard work to build this was all worth it.”
‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ tops $108 million as parents flock back to cinemas, kids in tow
“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is the sequel to the 2015 film, “Minions,” and spin-off/prequel to the main “Despicable Me” film series.
Families have gone bananas for “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”
Over the weekend, the Universal and Illumination animated feature tallied more than $108 million in ticket sales.
The fifth film in the Despicable Me franchise generated an additional $93.7 million from international markets, bringing its estimated opening weekend haul to $202 million globally.
“With the incredible success of ‘Minions,’ the notion that family audiences were avoiding movie theaters due to Covid concerns can be shelved,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
Box office analysts had wondered if this segment of moviegoers was still avoiding cinemas after Disney and Pixar’s “Lightyear” took in just $51 million during its domestic debut last month, below expectations of $70 million and $85 million.
It was unclear if tough box office competition led to “Lightyear’s” less than stellar debut or if consumers were confused about the film’s release. After all, there has not been a theatrical release of a Pixar film since 2020′s “Onward.” The last three from the animation studio, “Soul,” “Luca” and “Turning Red,” were all released on streaming service Disney+.
“Minions: The Rise of Gru” represented 54% of all domestic moviegoers over the weekend, with 68% of ticket holders being part of family groups, according to data from EntTelligence.
“What this weekend has showcased is a triumphant return to cinemas by families, laying to rest any lingering and outdated pandemic narrative that parents and kids only want to watch movies at home,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “When the right content is out there, people will show up.”
The film is expected to add another $20 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada on Monday, bringing its holiday weekend total to $128 million.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is the distributor of “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”
American Airlines scheduling glitch allows pilots to drop thousands of July flights
An American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner approaches for a landing at the Miami International Airport on December 10, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
A glitch in a scheduling platform allowed American Airlines pilots to drop thousands of July assignments overnight Saturday, their union said, a headache for the airline as it tries to minimize flight disruptions during a booming travel season.
American said it didn’t expect the problem to affect its operation, including during the busy July Fourth holiday weekend. The union and airline are now discussing additional pay for pilots whose dropped trips the airline reinstated, the Allied Pilots Association said.
“As a result of this technical glitch, certain trip trading transactions were able to be processed when it shouldn’t have been permitted,” the airline said in a statement. “We already have restored the vast majority of the affected trips and do not anticipate any operational impact because of this issue.”
More than 12,000 July flights lacked either a captain, first officer, or both, after pilots dropped assignments, the Allied Pilots Association said Saturday. APA said the airline reinstated about 80% of the trips.
Pilots can routinely drop or pick up trips, but time off in the summer or holidays is hard to come by for airline employees as schedules peak to cater to strong demand.
On Saturday alone, American had more than 3,000 mainline flights scheduled and they were 93% full, according to an internal tally. Flights left unstaffed, however, are an additional strain on any airline.
The glitch occurred during a rocky start to the Fourth of July weekend when thunderstorms and staffing issues caused thousands of U.S. flight delays and hundreds of cancellations.
A similar issue occurred in 2017, when a technology problem let American’s pilots take vacation during the busy December holiday period. The carrier offered pilots 150% pay for pilots that picked up assignments.
American and its pilots’ union, whose relationship has been fraught, are in the middle of contract negotiations and the airline most recently offered nearly 17% raises through 2024.
Union president Capt. Ed Sicher, who started his term Friday, told American’s roughly 15,000 pilots Saturday night that American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said he is committed to paying an “inconvenience premium” to aviators whose trips American put back on their schedules after the glitch.
“To Mr. Isom’s credit, he called me four times today to commit to mitigating the damage from this debacle,” Sicher wrote late Saturday. “We started at a 200% override, although the details of this pay are still the subject of negotiations and there is no guarantee of the details or the amounts.”
American Airlines declined to comment on Sicher’s message to pilots.
American’s pilots have picketed recently against grueling schedules, something they want to be addressed in a new contract. Pilots at Delta and Southwest have picketed in recent weeks for similar reasons.
Sicher also struck an upbeat tone about contract talks with American, particularly about quality-of-life issues.
“Please understand that no firm commitments have yet been made, but I feel that we have, at least for the first time since negotiations began, received positive indications that management is motivated to achieve collaborative solutions to longstanding problems with our current contract that will greatly enhance our ability to trade our trips and consequently enhance our quality of life,” he wrote.
Trump media company subpoenaed in federal criminal probe of SPAC deal
Former U.S. President Donald Trump gives the keynote address at the Faith & Freedom Coalition during their annual “Road To Majority Policy Conference” at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center June 17, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Seth Herald | Getty Images
Donald Trump’s media company was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in connection with a criminal probe, according to the company with which the former president’s firm plans to merge.
Digital World Acquisition Corp. said in a filing Friday that Trump Media and Technology Group received a subpoena from the grand jury in Manhattan on Thursday. The Trump company also received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding a civil probe on Monday, DWAC said.
DWAC also said some current and former TMTG employees have also recently received grand jury subpoenas.
The filing came days after DWAC said the government investigations could delay or even prevent its merger with Trump’s newly formed company, which includes Truth Social, a social media app intended to be an alternative to Twitter.
Neither TMTG nor a spokeswoman for Trump immediately responded to CNBC’s requests for comment.
The Justice Department and the SEC, which regulates the stock market, are investigating the deal between DWAC and Trump Media. By merging with DWAC, which is a kind of shell company called a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, Trump’s firm would gain access to potentially billions of dollars on public equities markets.
Trump established Truth Social months after Twitter banned him for his tweets on Jan. 6, 2021, when hundreds of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Trump Media’s CEO is former Rep. Devin Nunes, one of the former president’s most ardent loyalists in the Republican Party. Trump is also considering whether to run for president in the 2024 election.
Trump has continued to spread the lie that the election was stolen from him. His alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection is being probed by a House select committee that has accused the former president of being at the center of a multipronged conspiracy to block the peaceful transfer of power to Biden.
Early criticism of the Trump-DWAC deal came from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. In calling for an investigation, she wrote to SEC Chair Gary Gensler in November, telling him that DWAC “may have committed securities violations by holding private and undisclosed discussions about the merger as early as May 2021, while omitting this information in [SEC] filing and other public statements.”
DWAC shares are far off their highs, closing Friday at $24.20. The stock had surged above $90 in October, after the deal with Trump’s group was announced.
DWAC on Monday revealed in a securities filing that it learned June 16 that each member of its board of directors received subpoenas from the same federal grand jury.
The grand jury sought documents similar to those the SEC already requested as part of its civil probe, DWAC said. The company itself was served with a subpoena a week ago with similar requests, along with other requests relating to communications, individuals and information involving Rocket One Capital.
DWAC also revealed Monday that a board member, Bruce J. Garelick, had told management that he would quit the board during the previous week. Garelick said his resignation “was not the result of any disagreement with Digital World’s operations, policies or practices,” according to the company filing.
— CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger and Thomas Franck contributed to this story.
This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.
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