STANTON — When Jeff and Jane Trimper originally conceived of Maddie’s House Park, it was to be a barrier free playground created as a memorial to their daughter Madeline, who died at age 7 from a rare disease known as Metachromatic Lukodystrophy.
Located in the heart of Stanton, the park was created in 2008 through the efforts of a small army of fundraisers and volunteers in cooperation with the city. In addition to the playhouse and other playground equipment, planners originally envisioned the inclusion of a wheelchair swing for special needs children, such as Maddie.
Somehow, though, that part of the project was never completed.
“As we worked with the city, I think the swing just kind of got lost in the shuffle somewhere,” Jeff Trimper said. “The Maddie’s House was more expensive than we anticipated and the swing just sort of got pushed to the back burner.”
Then three years ago, Trimper and a few fellow park boosters decided to try raising enough money through various fundraisers to finally install the swing-set as originally planned.
One of the biggest fundraisers, and one that will be celebrating its third year this Sunday afternoon, was the 5K “Anything You Like” race. Probably one of the least “ruled up” races of its kind, the event allows runners, walker and bicyclists to participate.
There is no set sign-up fee and everything from T-shirts to the after-race lunch are provided free of charge. Those taking part make a donation of their choice, hence the “Anything You Want” moniker.
“The first couple years there were around 150 racers,” Trimper said. “We have a big party in the park, pass out free T-shirts, hold raffles, a lunch and stuff like that.”
Money from the previous two year’s races went toward purchasing the wheelchair swing. At the race Sunday afternoon, city officials and volunteers will gather for an “unofficial” ribbon cutting ceremony, though the swing has already seen plenty of use since its installation several weeks ago.
According to Stanton City Manager James Freed, who plans to attend the ribbon cutting, the addition of the swing serves as a real feather in the city’s collective cap.
“It’s a very big deal,” Freed said. “This is the only one of its kind in the region.”
Pre-registration was required (and is now over) for those racers hoping for a free 2013 T-shirt. However, Trimper said there are plenty of leftover T-shirts from last year’s event that will be available to anyone who wants one, no charge.
The event, Trimper admits, is a lot of work, particularly for he and his wife Jane, who are both teachers.
“This is a very busy time of year for us both,” Trimper said. “Every year we talk about not doing it because it’s so much work. We have a lot of great people who help out though.”
And in the end, he adds, the funds raised through the race are needed to help maintain the park and keep it looking good.
“And people really love coming to the park,” he said.
Registration for the race begins at noon Sunday with the race following at 1 p.m. Winners in both male and female categories will be awarded special prizes at the conclusion of the run.