Minnesota club credits community for Legacy of Play contest win

Vicki Hermansen | Aug 05, 2021

Playground with sidewalk

Old playground
On a windy June day in Minnesota, members of the Early Risers Kiwanis Club of Worthington met at the site of a new playground to marvel at how far the project had advanced. A playground designed for people of all abilities — and the winner of the 2020 Legacy of Play contest sponsored by Kiwanis International and Landscape Structures — was nearing completion.  

“Everything fell into place,” said Loreena Luetgers, a club member who worked on the project. “It’s the most humbling experience I’ve had.”  

The club hopes to hold a formal dedication before the end of August. 

Along with the playground, the club installed a “gaga pit” (an octagonal structure that allows kids to play a form of dodgeball and is accessible to everyone), a donor wall and a picket fence that displays the names of local businesses on each picket. (The club raised funds by offering each picket for $75.)  

Even the pandemic, which began in 2020 and stretched into this year, did not impede the project’s progress. For instance, Luetgers said, the club’s organization helped simplify fundraising — including a three-ring binder for each committee member, with photos of the equipment, the price and other details.  

Ultimately, the club raised US$390,000. 

“The first thing we did was visit the Worthington Regional Healthcare Foundation, which has matching grants,” Leutgers said. “They gave us a $125,000 grant the week before Christmas 2019. So we had everything ready to go.” 

Overall, club members visited 175 businesses, organizations and individuals in six weeks and researched 50 different grants. 

“Eighty-eight percent of contributions came from within 20 miles of Worthington,” Luetgers said, noting that individual donations accounted for most of the fundraising. One anonymous donor provided $32,000. All the money was in hand by September of 2020.  

Club member Clair Willaims said the club’s participation in the Legacy of Play Contest helped generate community members’ interest in the project.  

“They really came to bat for us,” he said. “The main reason we entered, not even thinking we’d win, was to get the community involved and get everyone voting on it.” 

From club impact and community involvement to the benefits of the Legacy of Play Contest, Williams added, the whole experience has been positive.  

“In my life, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done. I can’t wait to see the kids out there.”  


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