AuSABLE?FORKS - Henry's Trail is a nature trail being built on Grove Road in the hamlet of AuSable Forks in the town of Jay.
This new trail should not be confused with Henry's Woods, a network of trails off the Bear Cub Road in Lake Placid owned and maintained by the Uihlein Foundation and named for Henry Uihlein II.
What makes Henry's Trail in AuSable Forks so special is that it is being built in memory of a 7-year-old boy, Henry Caito. Henry and his 75-year-old grandmother, Theresa Caito, lost their lives on Nov. 30, 2011 in a one-car accident on the Carey Road.
Portrait of Henry Caito
Henry's parents, Greg and Lisa Caito, live in the town of Jay with their three sons, 16-year-old Matthew, 13-year-old Ben and 9-year-old Jonny. Like other kids their age, they participate in sports, theater and other extracurricular activities. It is an active and busy household.
Prominently displayed in the front hall of the Caito home is a portrait of Henry that was painted by Patty Tender, who is a bus driver for the AuSable Valley Central School District.
Henry, who had Down syndrome, attended the AuSable Valley Elementary School, where Caroline Douglas works as a teacher's aide. She was Henry's one-on-one aide for more than two years and cultivated a special relationship with him.
"Henry was a cheerful, eager learner," Douglas said. "He touched the hearts of everyone he came into contact with at the school. ... Henry was a kind little boy who enjoyed playing with his classmates. He especially enjoyed Wiffle Ball, football and baseball. Henry loved to climb and was working on mastering the rings on the playground."
Henry's Trail is currently under construction in an area know locally as the Grove. The Grove consists of a little league baseball field, softball field and a soccer field, all used by the Jay/Black Brook Youth Leagues.
The trail winds through a wooded area and will consist of several interactive Adirondack-themed pods which children can play on. The trail will be designed to be both fun and educational. Pods will include a honey bee, a bear, a snowshoe hare/cottontail rabbit, bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, fisher and deer mouse.
This is a community project spearheaded by the Town of Jay/Black Brook Youth Commission in conjunction with Essex County Public Heath. There have already been several work days where volunteers have donated their skills and labor to create the trail. During the winter, much of the work focused on assembling the pods which will be placed outside this spring. The trail will be built to accommodate senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Henry's mother said she and her husband wanted to do something for the kids in the Grove.
"Henry loved baseball, " she said. "When people come to watch games, the kids that are not playing will have something fun to do. It feels good to do something for the community because Henry loved everyone in this town."
Lisa also said Henry would have loved to be there and seen people use the trail, while being so close to the ball fields.
"He enjoyed the television show 'Little Bear,' so the trail will incorporate a bear as part of the layout," she said.
The Caitos have established Henry's Light Foundation to honor their son. The foundation funds worthwhile community projects and has donated $10,000 to fund the trail project. The town of Jay also received a $10,000 New York State Creating Healthy Places Grant and many generous private donations to offset the cost of the trail construction.
Donations are still be accepted. Anyone interested can make a donation to the Town of Jay, Henry's Trail, and mail it to P.O. Box 730, AuSable Forks, NY 12912.
People who want to volunteer should contact the Town of Jay offices to inquire about future work days.
A ceremony will be held this summer at the Grove to officially open the trail and honor Henry's memory.