Sarah Stultz: Getting closer to playground goal, but more to go

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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About a year and a half since we started fundraising for the All Together Albert Lea Inclusive Playground, I’m proud to say we’re making substantial progress toward our goal of bringing an inclusive playground to Albert Lea.

Of the total $1.25 million estimated cost of the project, right now we have achieved about $745,000 in committed funds for the project.

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The city on Monday night approved applying for a $300,000 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources grant for the project, which if approved would push us over $1 million.

While in some respects it seems like we just began raising money for this project, in other ways it has seemed like a long journey, and we are excited to have received such strong support.

This playground will be a wonderful addition for all of our community’s children, and I can’t wait to see children of all abilities be able to play together in one location.

Aside from the actual playground infrastructure itself, I hope that the playground promotes the notion that we are more alike than we are different and that we should all be kind to each other.

We all have different abilities, but we all deserve to be treated with respect and we all deserve to have a little fun!

If you, your business or your organization would like to donate, there is definitely still time and the need is still there.

While we are nearing the goal, we are still about $200,000 shy of the needed funds if the DNR grant comes to fruition.

Even if you don’t have a large amount to give, there are many opportunities coming up in the next few months where you can contribute in smaller ways.

• On March 18, Rock Your Socks, a 3.21-mile walk/run, will take place, starting at 9 a.m. from the Brookside Boat Landing. The event is to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day and recognize individuals in the area with Down Syndrome.

• On March 23, from 4:30 p.m. to close, a fundraiser will take place at Pizza Ranch.

• On April 4, from 4 to 8 p.m, a fundraiser will take place at Jersey Mike’s with a percentage of the proceeds going toward the playground.

• We are also rescheduling a golf event at Good Shots Golf & Sporting Clays in Emmons that was rained out last year. A date is still to be determined but more information will be posted once it’s available.

If you have a fundraising idea you would like to spearhead, we would love to help! Remember, many hands make light work!

Help us make this awesome project a reality with the goal of breaking ground in the fall and installing the equipment next spring.

The children will thank you.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.