Avera made a $200,000 donation to Aberdeen’s Park and Recreation Board, and the money will be used to build an all-inclusive, handicap-accessible playground inside Storybook Land. The new playground will replace the one inside the park just south of the Land of Oz, and it will give all children a chance to play together and feel welcome.
Avera St. Luke’s Regional President and CEO Todd Forkel had asked the mayor if there were any shovel-ready projects they could donate to, and this was a perfect fit with Avera’s mission. The city and park board have been wanting to move forward with this project for over a year, and the hospital’s generosity helped make the idea possible.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to give to the community in this way,” Todd said. He also said that Avera’s birthday seemed like a great time to give. The Presentation Sisters opened St. Luke’s Hospital on October 18, 1901, after the diphtheria epidemic struck Aberdeen.
In addition to the hospital’s gift, the park board will receive a $150,000 grant from the National Parks Services that will also help fund the project.
The onsite ground-breaking will take place after Labor Day, and the city expects a ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiling of the new playground to occur in mid-June of next year. // —Symmone Gauer
Featured Photo: Avera St. Luke’s Regional President and CEO Todd Forkel (third from left) presents a check to the Aberdeen Park & Recreation Board for the construction of a new handicap-accessible playground. Photo taken by Symmone Gauer.