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Tom Brooks
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A pair of large gifts vaulted fund raising totals for Richardson’s first Inclusive Playground to more than $210,000 – about 84 percent -- of the $250,000 goal.

The B.B Owen Trust recently donated $100,000 to the cause and the Richardson East Rotary Club added more than $50,000 from its annual Rotary Cares – Games & Gala. Combined with funds donated earlier, Richardson East Rotary has contributed a total of $65,000 to the cause.

“We are energized by these large gifts, but also by the myriad of small ways the community has responded to this project,” said Bruce MacPherson, chair of the fund-raising arm of the Inclusive Playground Committee. “We couldn’t get where we want to go without the large gifts, but also the many small donations that are coming in from all over the community. People want to feel a part of this.”

Children have jumped on the fund-raising effort. Last fall, the Student Council at Terrace Elementary invited the Inclusive Playground Committee to make a presentation on the project and adopted it as one of its fund-raising efforts. The students have been selling cotton candy at school events and pledged $1,000 to the playground.

The Richardson Council of PTAs recently endorsed, with school district approval, the 47Nickels.com campaign in elementary schools of the Richardson Independent School District. The idea of the campaign is simple: if all of Richardson’s roughly 106,000 residents contributed just $2.35 (or 47 nickels), the campaign goal of $250,000 would be met. The Inclusive Playground Committee provided coin envelopes and letters of explanation for student take-home folders. The PTA at each school has the option of participating and coordinating the program at its school.

The Inclusive Playground will replace the existing playground at Cottonwood Park. The facility will utilize ramping, adapted play equipment, and specialized surfaces that allow accessibility for those with physical challenges to play alongside, and with, those who have normal physical function.

The Inclusive Playground is a joint effort of the City of Richardson and Richardson East Rotary Club. The city has about $200,000 in bond issue funds to replace the aging playground equipment at Cottonwood Park. After the bond issue was approved by voters, the Parks and Recreation Department proposed making the new playground inclusive but needed more funds. The Richardson East Rotary Club teamed with the city on the project and became the fund-raising arm, seeking another $250,000 to fund an inclusive facility.

To make a donation or learn more about the Inclusive Playground effort, go to 47Nickels.com or Richardson East Rotary’s playground site. If your organization would like a presentation on the Inclusive Playground, contact Tom Brooks or Bruce MacPherson at info@rerotaryclub.com

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