Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Labor of Love...

Last year, July heat beating down while we watched our kids swim in the inflatable pool in our backyard my friend Brooke asked me a question.  "Would you help me" she said "get something going to redo the playground at the fairgrounds?".  I agreed, thinking of the baked in the sun, splintered wonderland that my girls don't play on. Too old, too dangerous.  And our county had just finished building a state of the art events center at the fairgrounds too.  Such a bummer.  It could be  great place to play.

Fast forward a few weeks and Brooke and I are sitting in a golf cart waiting for the parade starting our county fair to begin.  "We need something to make this project really special, to make it stand out", said Brooke.  "You know" I said, my mind on Little Mama, "it would be really wonderful if that park could be universally accessible".

And it began.  We worked fast.  We applied for a Great Outdoors Colorado (GoCo) Grant the end of August.  And we were turned down.  Not enough community support they had said.  Not surprising, we hadn't had much time to raise any.  And stubborn farm wives don't give up.  The team of four stay-home moms and the county commissioners had applied for other grants and we had received them. We worked hard, secured donations, raised support in the community, made pancakes, applied for some more grants.  And we applied to GoCo again.

Then in June sitting in the sun on bleachers watching Josie play t-ball against the team from one town over.  Another friend sits beside me and asks "did you find out yet, did you get the grant"?  Huddled together over a smart phone as our kids battle it out on opposite teams we pull up the website to see if GoCo had made a decision... and they approved us!  We received a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to build a universally accessible playground here in northeastern Colorado!

We are blessed to be able to put a facility like that here for children that don't have a lot of the fancy stuff you can find in the bigger cities.  For kids who have a hard time playing on the parks that are here now.  But soon, they will be able to play and be part of things, just like everyone else.   And that fills my heart like you cannot believe!

Because I think back two years ago, carrying our Princess Marie at the city park.  Daddy helping her through the parts that he could.  Me sitting cross-legged, the metal floor of the play structure cutting in to my ankles.  Holding her up and helping keep her hands on the wheel so that she could drive a pretend firetruck and we could see that smile...  And she was just a kid for a little while, having fun at the playground and she wasn't different from the rest of them.  She was happy, and that meant more than anything else.  Watching Marie play just like any other kid... priceless.  Watching her swing in her special swing at home, beside Josie, the two of them making memories.  Priceless.  My favorite memories are her playing.

And we will be able to share that with other kids.  Because they're out here, in this farm town.  In the other tiny towns surrounding us.  Over in Nebraska, those kids are there.  And soon they'll have a place to play and I am blessed to have gotten to be a part of that.

"I have yet to meet a child who isn't special and doesn't have needs...it's all just in varying degrees." Sandra Eller (mother of a child lost to Mitochondrial Disease)


It's been my labor of love, in memory of our perfect Princess.  My Little Mama, Daddy's Isabella.  Our Rie Rie.  If feels so good to still be able to do something good, in some sort of way, for her.



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4 comments:

Clarissa said...

Awesome!
Very true quote from little Anna's mom.
Prayers are with you!

emmafudd said...

Brooke is my sister-in-law...what a force of nature!

Elisa said...

AWESOME!!!!

Val said...

That is sooooo, soooo cool!! Someone once said to me...if you are consistant enough, you will eventually get to your goal. Wow, I am so happy for Holyoke!! Way to go guys!