By Michael Swisher
KT&FP Managing Editor
Those were the steadfast words of Glenda Boeckman Wolf, even in the toughest times of Wheatbelt Ambucs of Kingfisher County’s efforts to have an all-inclusive playground built here.
So keep going the group did and last weekend, the “Playground of Dreams” became an official reality.
Several dozen people attended a ribbon cutting ceremony Sunday to open the playground at Kingfisher Park.
“This has been seven years in the making,” said Erin Scammahorn speaking to the crowd.
Scammahorn is part of Wheatbelt Ambucs, which began fundraising for the project nearly a decade ago.
Its goal was to replace the aging playground equipment at the park with equipment and grounds that could be used by children of all abilities.
The group knew early on the project wouldn’t be easy. It proved even tougher than they imagined.
The playground was estimated to cost about $600,000 and early efforts to raise the funds weren’t fruitless, but they didn’t make a big dent in the price tag.
However, Scammahorn said, one Ambucs member insisted the group keep persisting with its fundraising efforts.
That member was Wolf, who was also the special education director for Kingfisher Public Schools.
“When we would say, ‘Maybe this isn’t going to work’ and ‘we need to hand this project to the city to complete,’ she would shake her head and say, ‘this will work out, keep going,’” Scammahorn recalled during Sunday’s address.
“And she told us that more than once. So we kept going and she was right.”
The group was rewarded about three years ago when the City of Kingfisher pledged to match the group’s fundraising efforts up to $300,000.
So they kept going.
Wolf was steadfast in her belief in the project because she cared for and fought for children with disabilities everyday.
However, Wolf eventually had her own health battle to fight as she was stricken with cancer.
Her illness became public in December 2018. She passed away in March 2019.
Wolf’s own courageous battle spurred the community as donations skyrocketed.
In the calendar year after her illness was made public, Ambucs collected just over $200,000 in donations.
Wolf’s son, Shae Edwards, and daughter, Kelsi Edwards, were part of the ribbon cutting as were members of Ambucs as well as Emma Thomas, one of the children who will benefit from the new equipment.
Scammahorn took members of Wolf’s family on a tour of the equipment, explaining how each piece can be used and what the symbols at each station stood for.
She also explained to the group that work at the playground isn’t finished.
The Boy Scouts cabin that sits on the south side of the playground will be razed.
In its place will go new ADA-compliant bathrooms as well as a meeting room for Kingfisher Winter Nights.
Winter Nights and the city will help with those project expenses, Scammahorn said.
That area will also include a new parking lot with handicap spaces and better access to the park for wheeled devices.
One other feature will be a sign erected on site listing the playground’s major donors.
Before and after the ceremony, the playground was filled with children – and even some adults – playing on the new equipment.
One of them was Ryen Martin, who turned 2 in January and lives in Fox with her parents, Dillon and Sara Martin.
Sara (Wittrock) is a 2006 KHS graduate and was on hand with several other family members from this area, many of whom contributed to the park, which was built for people like her daughter in mind.
“When you have a baby girl like Ryen, all you want is for her to be healthy and to have all the opportunity possible. You want the same for all your children,” Sara said. “When someone else takes an interest in that as well and aims for the same, it is a huge deal and something you take notice of. My husband and I are grateful to those who had this vision and made it happen for so many families.”