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Full Meter-Thon raises funds for all-inclusive park

Pictured crossing the finish line from left are Barb Coleman, Bob Chapman and Luanne Peterson, who have been actively involved in the project to build an inclusive park in Marquette County since it began about 12 years ago. Initially, the project sought to reconstruct the playground at Presque Isle Park, but after some discussion with the city of Marquette, they decided to change gears to redesign Kids Cove to become all inclusive. (Journal photo by Justin Van’t Hof)

MARQUETTE — Sounds of cowbells filled the air as hundreds of community members gathered for the Full Meter-Thon at Marquette’s Ellwood Mattson Lower Harbor Park Saturday.

The event raised funds to replace the Kids Cove playground with a new one that is all-inclusive for those with sensory and mobility issues. That is something one of the event organizers, Stephanie Jones, said will benefit the entire community.

“This is a playground that will allow both children who have different mobility struggles, but also parents and grandparents to be able to bring kids to a playground and have positive interactions,”she said. “I think that because Marquette is such a dynamic town, that is something that we need and something that is incredibly important to have, not just for our community but the visitors as well.”

Those participating in the event donated $25 to run a one-meter, or 3.28-foot, race. Other festivities included live music, food trucks, a VIP tent and informational booths about what Kids Cove 2 will look like.

“I have to say I’m overwhelmed and overjoyed that the support the community shows and I hope our fundraising efforts reflect that,” Jones said.

The McFadden family — baby Henry, mother Maureen and father Mike — walk across the one-meter, or 3.28-foot finish line at the Full Meter-Thon at Ellwood Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette Saturday. Those who participated in the run received swag bags with a T-shirt, buttons and chocolate from Donckers. (Journal photo by Justin Van’t Hof)

The planning for the event was a collaborative process between community members Stephanie Jones, Bill Digneit, Kate Havel and Rick Rhoades.

The playground is being designed by Sanders & Czapski Associates of Marquette who will oversee the construction of the playground. The funds raised go to the Community Foundation of Marquette County, which will use the money to construct the new playground.

The project’s price tag is set at $600,000, however, the effort received a $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. In order for playground organizers to be able to utilize the funds, the grant requires them to match that amount.

Once the project is completed, Jones says she is looking to continue the event annually to continue raising funds to help rebuild playgrounds all over Marquette County.

“Once this park is paid for we would like to see this event fund playgrounds all over Marquette County,” she said. “Chocolay Township does not have a playground for kids, there are areas in Marquette County that need a playground and this is a fundraiser that is all for kids.”

The McFadden family — baby Henry, mother Maureen and father Mike — walk across the one-meter, or 3.28-foot finish line at the Full Meter-Thon at Ellwood Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette Saturday. Those who participated in the run received swag bags with a T-shirt, buttons and chocolate from Donckers. (Journal photo by Justin Van’t Hof)

Outside of the individual donors who participated in the run, the event was also sponsored by Honor Credit Union, WLUC-TV6, mediaBrew Communications, Invent@NMU and many others.

Digneit said he hopes that this project can help leave a lasting impact for generations to come.

“The group we’re working with is really fun and knowing at the end we’re building a lasting legacy for generations to come to build something where kids can be kids,” he said.

Digneit believes that building an all-inclusive park is just one step in making Marquette County more accessible for everyone.

“I truly believe that we need to design everything to be a zero barrier where anyone can walk in and have the experience. So I think it’s a huge right step for us where we need to be in our community,” Digneit said.

To find out more the Kids Cove 2 project, visit kidscovemqt.com or reach out to kidscovemqt@gmail.com

Justin Van’t Hof can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is justinvanthof@miningjournal.net.

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