Fundraising efforts prove strong; all-inclusive playground may break ground in fall

Contributed by Judy Fish

The Lake Monticello Community Foundation is 70 percent of the way to its goal of raising $100,000 for an all-inclusive playground at Lake Monticello. The Foundation launched the fundraising campaign eight months ago and hopes to break ground in early fall.

“We are so appreciative of all the people who have donated to our campaign—we are almost there,” said Nancy Parsons, Lake Monticello Community Foundation president. “Businesses and individuals have made both large and small contributions and it is all adding up. We have even had people host fundraising events at their homes. Our motto is ‘Better Together’ and this is a real community effort!”

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.

The playground has been designed in cooperation with experts and potential local users, Parsons said. She said the improvements include new pieces of equipment specifically designed to be used by children of all abilities, a new, safer surface that will make it accessible to all—including parents and grandparents with mobility challenges.

The two new pieces of playground equipment have already been ordered, Parsons said. She said the Foundation is working directly with LMOA staff on developing the playground.

One of those playground equipment pieces was made possible by Dr. Markus Niepraschk of Mill Creek Orthodontics in Charlottesville, who made the first large contribution when he donated $11,000. At the Playground Kick-off Ceremony last November, the orthodontist said the whole community “has been great to me” and “giving back to the community is at the heart of our cause.” He also said he had been impressed that “the amazing team” working on the playground “has such passion for this project.” Dr. Markus—as he likes to be called—has five children and one of those has special needs. “This project has personal meaning for me,” he added. 

State Farm Agent Gary Albert, who partnered with Avenue Realty to buy the second piece of playground equipment for the project, said that about six years ago his then-seven-year-old son suffered a bad spiral fracture. “There was nowhere to take him during his recovery,” Albert said. “It was even difficult to push his wheelchair over the mulch at the school. This new Lafayette playground will benefit all children.”

“I was inspired to get involved with this project because of a client who became a good friend,” said Amy Cochran of Avenue Realty. “She has a one-year-old who is wheelchair bound. I remember as a mom of two young children that going to the playground was where I could go on a ‘Bad Mom Day’—the kind of day where moms look for support from other moms on the playground. Who is my friend going to talk to if there isn’t a playground for her child on her ‘Bad Mom Days?’ This is important and it feels personal.”

The project will have little cost for the homeowners’ association. The Lake Monticello Community Foundation will raise the full initial cost, though LMOA staff will help with work such as site preparation and landscaping. LMOA will also maintain the playground, just as it does others in the Lake community of some 12,000 residents.

In addition to the generous business contributions, the Foundation has raised money for the project in multiple ways, including tea parties in private homes, raffling a trip, several yard sales, a holiday dinner dance and a successful music showcase. Future plans include a dock concert on Aug. 6 and a magic show in September.

The Lake Monticello Community Foundation is a 501c3, non-profit charitable organization incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Community Foundation has received a tax-exempt determination from both the IRS and Virginia, stating that all contributions made to it are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

There is still time to be involved in the Playground Project. Visit and make a donation or, even better, send a check to: Lake Monticello Community Foundation 265 Turkeysag, Suite 102, #143, Palmyra, VA 22963. 

For more information, check out the Lake Monticello Community Foundation website or Facebook page or call 434-591-5169 or email

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