Saturday, Aug. 1, has been set as the deadline for 2015 Morgan’s Wonderland 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 and built to be enjoyed by everyone.
“Each year, we shine the spotlight on five heroes who’ve been gone above and beyond to befriend the special-needs community,” Morander said. “These extraordinary individuals clearly exhibit qualities such as caring, determination, sacrifice and, above all, inclusion.”
The five Walk of Fame honorees will be recognized at the Free to Soar Gala on Saturday evening, Sept. 19, at Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio. Their names 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 that hugs the park’s scenic eight-acre lake. The pathway contains 88 of the 2-foot-in-diameter stepping stones that glow beginning at dusk.
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 to WalkofFame@MorgansWonderland.com and select honorees. Complete nominating instructions can be found on the park’s website, www.MorgansWonderland.com.
Sponsorship information and other details about the Free to Soar Gala are available from Becky Thomas at (210) 493-2811.
“Though we recognize that an individual might be a true inspiration or a hero to his or her family members, we’re looking for honorees who’ve had a dramatic impact on many lives,” Morander said.
He provided examples of deserving honorees – 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 with special needs who has earned the admiration of a supervisor and peers for a job well done; a caregiver who has sacrificed to make a difference for those with special needs; or someone who works directly with the special-needs community to provide incredible assistance.
Completely wheelchair-accessible Morgan’s Wonderland, which is celebrating its fifth birthday throughout 2015, features more than 25 attractions including rides, playgrounds and gardens. (Check www.MorgansWonderland.com for the latest information on days and 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 philanthropists Gordon and Maggie Hartman’s 21-year-old daughter, Morgan. Her soaring spirit despite personal challenges sparked within them a deep desire to create a place where those with and without special needs could come together in an atmosphere of fun and inclusion.
Morgan’s Wonderland is part of a larger, 106-acre family fun destination called Wonderland, Texas. The nearby STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex offers 13 lighted soccer fields for tournaments and league play. Net profits from STAR Soccer go to support the operation and maintenance of Morgan’s Wonderland. Similarly, net profits from the 2014 North American Soccer League champion San Antonio Scorpions and the team’s 8,000-seat home – Toyota Field – are also earmarked to expand programs and services at Morgan’s Wonderland for the special-needs community.
In addition, Monarch Academy, a special-needs school next to Morgan’s Wonderland, is wrapping up its fourth year of instruction for students ages 12 to 24.
Morgan’s Wonderland is located in Northeast San Antonio a half-mile west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive. For more information, call either (210) 495-5888 or toll-free (877) 495-5888.