WAUKEE, Iowa — The Waukee Betterment Foundation needs to raise $2.5 million for the inclusive Waukee recreation park to become a reality. Thanks to the Dallas County Foundation and the Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation, they are $20,000 closer.
“We just began the fundraising efforts, but we’ve already had some very good conversations and a lot of positive feedback so we’re pretty confident,” said Jim Miller, president of the Waukee Betterment Foundation.
The goal is to have the park open in the spring of 2022 and be a haven for both children with special needs and those without.
“There’s a lot of kids out there, and obviously children don’t outgrow special needs, they become adults. So, between the adults and the children and also just the general public, anybody who has mobility issues, this will be a real breakthrough type of facility,” said Miller.
People like the Novotny family are excited for the park. Their 12-year-old son Lincoln has Down syndrome, and they say since moving to Waukee from Texas, he hasn’t had the same opportunities.
“When we came up here, we really didn’t have much. We’ve actually been fortunate to have some activities at the ‘Y’ where he swims with a special group, but outside of that it’s pretty limited,” said Nick Novotny.
They say having a place to go like this park will be great for Lincoln and his friends, not only just for the equipment but also for the relationships they can build.
“Having all of Lincoln’s friends and not only his friends, but we meet families with special needs, and to be able to get together with everybody it’s just awesome to see that and have the kids know that we’re all the same,” said Molly Novotny.
The park is planned to be built on land north of Hickman Road next to where crews have already started building Waukee’s second high school.