Jackson school donates more than $10,500 to playground project

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Jackson school recently donated a check of a little more than $10,500 to an all-accessible playground in Cape Girardeau County.

Since October, students at St. Paul Lutheran School have saved coins in a special coin box. The students also collected pledges for a March 8 walkathon at the Osage Community Centre.

Last week the students presented the $10,507.18 check to Andrea Cunningham, who has spearheaded efforts to raise funds for Melaina's Magical Playground. Cunningham estimates between 200 and 300 students and community members participated in the walkathon and that donations from the event are still being collected.

"I was in awe and amazed of the amount they were able to raise," Cunningham said. "Their determination to get this playground built helps fuel our efforts."

The playground will be named in memory of Cunningham's 3-year-old daughter, Melaina, who died in March 2009 of complications from pneumonia. Melaina had suffered from nemaline myopathy, a condition that causes low muscle tone.

Proposed for construction at Cape County Park North, the playground will have equipment for people of all abilities and ages. Additional features include handicapped parking and an all-accessible restroom.

The school is the fourth group to announce donations to the playground. Other groups that have donated money toward the cause are Cape Girardeau Noon Optimist Club, $100,000; Cape Girardeau County Commission, $150,000; and Jackson Jaycee Charitable Foundation, $10,000.

The donations from groups and individuals total about $280,000. Once $220,000 more is given, Cunningham said that construction on the playground can begin, with additional features added once remaining donations are accumulated.

Cunningham said she and other supporters of the effort have visited area civic groups to raise awareness and funds. While no benefits have been scheduled, Cunningham expects to announce exact dates and events soon.

Donations to the playground may be made by mailing a check to Melaina Cunningham and Friends Park Fund, P.O. Box 211, Cape Girardeau, MO 63703.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent address:

216 S. Russell St., Jackson, MO

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