Aug. 1 has been set as the deadline for Morgan’s Wonderland 2012 Walk of Fame nominations, according to Ron Morander, general manager of the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals of all ages in mind but built to be enjoyed by everyone.
“Each year, we honor outstanding individuals who embody character traits such as determination, caring, achievement, sacrifice and inclusion,” Morander said. “Walk of Fame honorees will be recognized at the Free to Soar Gala on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Morgan’s Wonderland, and their names will be added to the Walk and Roll Path that encircles our park’s eight-acre lake.”
A committee from Morgan’s Wonderland and The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, along with special advisors, will review nominations of not more than two typewritten pages submitted toWalkofFame@MorgansWonderland.com and select five honorees. Complete nominating instructions can be found on the park’s website,www.MorgansWonderland.com.
Morander said an honoree might be a student who, regardless of a special need, perseveres at school and inspires other students; a wounded warrior who embraces life despite immense physical challenges and serves as a role model for other warriors; a dedicated employee who has earned the admiration of a supervisor and peers for a job well done; a parent or caregiver who has sacrificed to make a difference for those with special needs; or someone who works directly with the special-needs community to make a difference in numerous lives.
“Though we recognize that an individual might be a true inspiration or a hero to his or her family members, we’re looking for those who positively influence or help multiple individuals in spite of physical or cognitive challenges,” Morander said.
Names of the honorees will be embedded in round, translucent “stepping stones” featuring the Morgan’s Wonderland logo – a butterfly in flight – on the ¾-mile-long Walk and Roll Path. The pathway contains 88 of the 2-foot-in-diameter stepping stones that glow beginning at dusk.
Sponsorship information and other details about the Free to Soar Gala are available from Anne Bristol at (210) 637-3415.
Morgan’s Wonderland, which is completely wheelchair-accessible, features more than 25 elements and attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, an eight-acre catch-and-release fishing lake, 18,000-square-foot special-events center, 575-seat amphitheater, picnic area and rest areas throughout the park.
(Check www.MorgansWonderland.comfor the latest information on hours of operation.)
Admission for special-needs guests is free; admission for accompanying family members, friends, caregivers and the general public is nominal. Children age 2 and younger are also admitted free of charge.
The inspiration for Morgan’s Wonderland came from philanthropist Gordon Hartman’s 18-year-old daughter Morgan. Her soaring spirit despite personal challenges sparked within Hartman a deep desire to create a haven not only for those with special needs but also for their families, caregivers and invited friends. “Inclusion is the overarching objective,” he noted. “Everyone can have a good time at Morgan’s Wonderland.”
In 2007, The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation was instrumental in the creation of SOAR (Sports Outdoor And Recreation), a non-profit organization to raise funds for building Morgan’s Wonderland. Construction began in spring 2009 and wrapped up in March 2010.
Morgan’s Wonderland is part of a larger 106-acre sports venue to encourage inclusive recreation whereby individuals of all abilities can play side-by-side. The nearby STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex offers 13 lighted soccer fields for tournaments, instructional clinics and special events. Net profits from STAR Soccer go to support the operation and maintenance of Morgan’s Wonderland.
Likewise, net profits from the San Antonio Scorpions FC, San Antonio’s new North American Soccer League franchise, are earmarked to expand programs and services at Morgan’s Wonderland for the special-needs community.
In addition, Monarch Academy, a school for students with special needs next to Morgan’s Wonderland, has just concluded its first year of operation.
Morgan’s Wonderland is located in Northeast San Antonio just off IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive. For more information, visitwww.MorgansWonderland.com, or call either (210) 495-5888 or toll-free (877) 495-5888.