Amy Jaffe Barzach, founder and executive director of Boundless Playgrounds was chosen from more than 2,225 entries. Each finalist will be featured on "The Martha Stewart Show" and on her website until Nov. 12, when the grand prize will be awarded. The winner takes home $10,000 toward their project, along with vacations for a lifetime. The ten remaining finalists will each win $1,000 and receive weeklong vacations in Puerto Rico.
Since establishing the national non-profit organization in 1997, Barzach has helped to create 134 barrier-free playgrounds throughout the U.S.
Barzach's nine-month-old son Jonathan died in 1995 of spinal muscular atrophy. A few months earlier, in the Fern Ridge Park playground in West Hartford, Barzach had noticed a little girl in a wheelchair, unable to access the playground and play with the other children. Out of that came the idea to build a playground so that all children, no matter their disability or condition, could play together.
In 1997, Barzach and several volunteers built "Jonathan's Dream" on land donated by the Hebrew Home and Hospital in West Hartford. The playground is now part of the Mandell Jewish Community Center.
Among the 10 other finalists are motorcycle designers, personal farmers and quiltmakers for a cause. Last year's winner was a quilter from Philadelphia who made hand-made pillowcases for children battling life-changing illnesses.