Lewiston Lions working to bring all-inclusive park to village
Niagara Gazette - 10/22/2018
Oct. 22--LEWISTON -- Lynn Bahringer, president of the Lewiston Lions, is busy these days selling $50 raffle tickets with $5,000 in rewards. It's all part of making the village's vision of an all-inclusive play park a reality.
When finished, the project will enable some families to enjoy time at a playground despite obstacles such as partial paralysis, autism, blindness or hearing loss. The envisioned project will cost between $500,000 and $750,000, according to Bahringer, but no taxpayers money will be used and the park will be built solely from donations and grants.
"Call it synchronicity," Bahringer explained when asked how the project has come so far so quickly. "I went to a Lion's Club meeting in Pendleton at Pendleton Park and I saw Mason's Mission there and I was really impressed."
Mason's Mission Foundation built the first inclusive park in the area conceived by Jason Evchick who has two sons that cannot use the conventional playground equipment. Evchick first thought about buying the all-inclusive equipment himself for private use, but quickly realized there was a community out there that shared his situation. He knew he had to pay it forward.
"This is our third Mason's Mission, believe it or not, in two years," Evchick said. "This year in Lewiston, I'm excited about working with Mayor Welch."
Bahringer said that there was no resistance to the idea from local officials. After speaking with Lewiston Town Supervisor Steve Broderick, she said that less than a day passed before she was introduced to Anne Welch, mayor of the Village of Lewiston.
"She always talked about it ... an all-inclusive park," Bahringer said about Welch. "That's how it happened! This (project) includes the mayor, Steve Broderick, myself and Mason's Mission."
"The theme of the park, it's going to have a lions' safari and we have a tentative name for it, it's going to be 'Lewiston Lions and Mason's Mission at Margaret Toohey Park,' " Bahringer said.
Bahringer went over the newest version of what the park will be like. It includes a splash pad, a sensory station with drums and chimes, dual-swings so parents can swing with their kids, and a merry-go-round designed by Parkitects, an upstate design company for playground equipment, which will accommodate wheelchairs.
The raffle tickets will include prizes of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000. Bahringer said that there will be multiple fundraisers throughout the year including "Christmas in Lewiston" which is an arts and crafts show at the Niagara Crossing Hotel and Spa on Dec. 1-2. Bahringer also said that other government officials are being asked to support the cause such as Sen. Robert Ortt.
"We're going full tilt, full steam ahead, there's no backing out now," Bahringer said.
To buy tickets or make a donation, interested parties can call Lion Lynn (Bahringer) at 807-2409. There is also a Go Fund Me page for the park at Gofundme.com/allinclusive-play-park.
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