KC man paints tree to give hope to people in Northeast Kansas City

Posted at 7:50 AM, Jul 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-06 08:50:04-04

It's hard not to notice it in one Northeast Kansas City neighborhood.

Brian Grady decided to use his yard as a way to give people hope when driving by his house near East 12th & Hardesty.

His idea? A tree painted with the ultimate four-letter word: LOVE. 

"I thought that that would have an impact on a lot of people, and if it helps somebody out, that to me is well worth it," Grady said.

He moved into the house 36 years ago, just three years after marrying his wife. Since then, they've had two sons and six grandchildren. The tree evolved just as their family did. 

Grady recalled a time when parents would call him, asking if their kids were hiding in it or if they'd come over to play.

"It used to be a pretty good sized tree, and my son had a four-story tree house in it," said Grady. "A lot of the neighborhood kids would come over and play in it and have good times, but he grew up and he's gone." 

Grady's family wasn't the only thing that motivated him to remodel his son's old tree house. It was once a pain in the neck before it became a gem in the area.

"I got tired of picking up the gumballs. It was a gumball tree, and for 35 years I raked the gumballs up every fall," said Grady. "I get more pleasure out of the tree now than I did before."

Now, Grady said people stop and take pictures with it or slow down to get a better view. He said changing the tree was just one step in changing people's perception about the area.

"Unfortunately, you tell some people that you live in the Northeast and they think about the hood and violence, but as you see, it's not here," Grady said. "It might be somewhere else, but it's not here."

Grady said he has high hopes for the neighborhood he's lived in for nearly two decades. 

"I'd like to see more people get involved with the community, so much to the point where maybe we have a Cinco De Mayo parade on Truman Road," said Grady. "Let's do what we have to do and keep the neighborhood together."