Let the playground fundraising begin

Contributed by Mike Feazel and Judy Fish, Lake Monticello News

The $100,000 fund drive to build an all-inclusive playground at Lake Monticello’s Lafayette Park officially kicked off Thursday (Oct. 21) – with $22,000 already committed toward the project. The fundraising is being done by the Lake Monticello Community Foundation.

“This will be a wonderful playground for all kids,” said Foundation President Nancy Parsons at the kickoff press conference at the park. “It will also benefit a lot of parents and grandparents.”

Laker Jennifer Valentine, director of special education for Fluvanna schools, told the audience she knew of at least four families within a four-block radius of the new playground that would benefit from the planned playground updates. “This idea is just so inspirational,” she said. Valentine had said previously that there are at least 130 children in the area who could benefit from the playground.

“I want to thank LMOA for putting together a work group of staff, LMOA board and Foundation members to develop a plan for the playground,” Parsons said Thursday in prepared remarks. “We are indebted to that group for their diligence and determination to make this happen!” She said the group included LMOA Board members Jay Hinkle and Larry Henson, LMOA Staff members Director of Operations Tom Schauder and General Manager Steve Hurwitz and Foundation Board Members Alan Stewart and Scott Mein.
Since the Lake Monticello Community Foundation was founded two and a half years ago, it has given grants to Lake Monticello Fire and Rescue and to families who could not afford season’s pool passes, Parsons said, adding “We have sponsored a number of activities and are planning to award community service grants to students and to give grants to organizations that support community needs, but our most ambitious project is this playground.”

Parsons said the Foundation is especially grateful to people like “the very generous Dr. Niepraschk” for giving us a great head start to our goal of $100,000. Dr. Markus, as his patients at Mill Creek Orthodontics call him, presented an $11,000 check on Monday—doubling the Foundation’s playground total, bringing it to $22,000 raised so far.

Dr. Marcus said at Thursday’s official kick-off ceremony that as the father of five children (one of them with special needs), the playground project spoke to him. “I love the idea of lots of smiles here as we make this playground even more inclusive,” Dr. Marcus said. “I hope other local businesses jump in and contribute. I think the Foundation will reach its goal way before May!”

Schauder also praised Dr. Markus. Thank you, Dr. Markus, for your generosity…your work as a dentist brings smiles to the faces of many, and your generosity will bring smiles and joy to many more in the years to come,” Schauder said. “Bringing everyone together at this playground site builds community and fosters friendship.”

“The positivity of this project is infectious, and we are very grateful for it,” said Schauder. He said the new playground will “bring more smiles, more laughter and more joy” to the entire community, and the work of the Foundation “represents teamwork, generosity, and simply paying it forward.”

An inclusive playground simply means “all children can play” in it, Parsons said. She said it will be used by children with “a wide spectrum of abilities,” including being fun for the fully-abled, and will “encourage acceptance and belonging” among children of all abilities. “This is truly a game-changer for Lake Monticello,” she said.

For more information about the Foundation, visit http://lakemonticellocommunityfoundation.org/ or contact the Foundation at lakecommunityfoundation@gmail.com or 434-591-5169. Donations can be mailed to LMCF, 265 TurkeySag Trail, Suite 102 #143 Palmyra, VA 22963

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