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Ethan Crough.

Submitted photo.
Ethan Crough. Submitted photo.

Andrew Laker | The Republic 
The Commons' Luckey Climber.
Andrew Laker | The Republic The Commons' Luckey Climber.

Andrew Laker | The Republic
The Commons' Luckey Climber.
Andrew Laker | The Republic The Commons' Luckey Climber.

The Commons’ Luckey Climber is an iconic, innovative reincarnation of the former playground. But few are familiar with the story of the man behind the climber, Tom Luckey, who died in August.

Local residents are invited to a free screening of the documentary “Luckey” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at YES Cinema.

Released in 2008, the film chronicles the life of Luckey following an accident that left him permanently disabled.

The timing of the screenings couldn’t be better, said Karen Shrode, executive director for the Columbus Area Arts Council.

“March is Disability Awareness Month,” Shrode said. “The film talks about the challenges of living with a disability and how it affects all your life, your surroundings.”

Steve Risting, lead architect for The Commons project, who worked closely with Luckey, will speak about him as an artist and an architect.

The event is an appreciation of Luckey’s contribution to Columbus architecture and art, Risting said.

“The film is actually more of a human-aspect story about Tom and his continued passion for his art and the Luckey Climbers even after his unfortunate accident,” Risting said.

An accidental fall through a second-story window left Luckey paralyzed from the neck down.

Ethan Crough, executive director for the Bartholomew County Consolidated School Corp., also will speak about disability awareness.

“I try and show how having a sense of humor about things is so important,” Crough said. “What I intend to do is alleviate misinformation and make people comfortable talking about disability.”

Luckey designed his first Luckey Climber for the Boston Children’s Museum in 1984. He went on to design Climbers for playgrounds and museums around the world.

But in 2005, Luckey’s world was completely transformed after the accident.

Randy Allman, executive director for the LCNFC, calls Luckey’s story inspirational. Although he admits he’s holding out for the screening to see the documentary in its entirety, he admits Luckey’s sense of humor in the face of such tremendous adversity is what struck him the most.

Luckey personally made a similar impression on Risting.

“He always had a sense of humor,” Risting said. “He was very much an artist trying to do something quite unique.”

Despite the association of Luckey Climbers as a children’s activity, Shrode cautions the documentary isn’t appropriate for young children.

The film deals with adult subjects and difficult moments, specifically the father-and-son relationship and how they compromise their own wills to work together effectively, Shrode said.

The screenings are a collaborative effort of the Columbus Area Arts Council, The Commons and the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, made possible by an anonymous donor.

A short presentation will precede the first screening Tuesday. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Donations made at the screenings will benefit Columbus’ Very Special Arts Indiana Festival, an annual event designed to offer children with special needs the opportunity to explore the power of the arts.

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