Noon Optimist Club donates $100,000 to Melaina's Magical Playground

Monday, December 28, 2009

A local club has committed $100,000 to an all-accessible playground in the area.

During a recent meeting the Cape Girardeau Noon Optimist Club approved the money to go toward Melaina's Magical Playground. The money was raised through the club's participation in Friday Night Optimist Bingo at Bingo World.

Named in memory of Melaina Cunningham, a 3-year-old who died of complications from pneumonia earlier this year, the playground will have equipment for people of all ages and abilities at Cape County Park North. Other features may include handicapped parking spaces and all-accessible restrooms.

Andrea Cunningham, Melaina's mother, who has been a driving force behind the project, said she was moved by the club's donation and said she thinks it will go a long way in making the playground a reality.

"We're hoping people continue to be generous and support this project so we can make it happen as soon as possible," Cunningham said. "We're excited about the commitments so far and hope other groups and organizations would get on board with the project."

Jeff Glenn, a member of the Optimist club, said his organization has discussed for several years someone building such a playground.

"This project fits our mission of serving the youth of our community, and we are excited to be a part of this very special playground," Glenn said. "We look forward to children from the region being able to come to Cape Girardeau and grow and learn together."

The Optimist Club is the second group to make a large contribution to the project. The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved $150,000 for the playground during its Nov. 21 meeting.

The donations leave playground supporters about $250,000 short of their goal. Equipment will cost between $225,000 and $250,000, labor between $50,000 and $100,000 and a special, soft playground surface about $150,000.

Cunningham said she and other supporters will begin speaking to civic organizations to raise the remaining funds.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent address:

823 N. Clark St.

Cape Girardeau, MO

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