By Amy PerryOctober 11, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (Oct. 11, 2012) -- Less than two months after Fort Lee children spent the afternoon designing their dream playground, a partnership between Fort Lee, KaBOOM! and Dr Pepper Snapple Group helped make that park a reality Saturday in Monroe Manor.
Normally, a KaBOOM! playground build has about 250 volunteers, but the Fort Lee community -- including the Defense Commissary Agency and Dr Pepper Snapple Group -- turned out in full force with more than 525 volunteers.
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit group that builds and refurbishes playgrounds and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group funded this build as part of a $15 million, three-year plan to build and refurbish 2,000 playgrounds with KaBOOM!
Ideas that were pulled from the playground drawings could been seen throughout the day as rock walls, swings, slides and rope ladders were installed on the lot. The color choices of teal, orange, purple and black also came together throughout the design.
Allie Farrington, the KaBOOM! project manager for the Fort Lee park, said she was thrilled to be part of the project. This was Farrington's last playground as part of KaBOOM! and she said she was just amazed at the turnout.
"It's incredible," she said. "It makes me feel good to be able to lead a project like this, but it says more to me about how awesome this community is. It really shows me what our country is about and what is important."
Teeka Towns, a military spouse who lives in Monroe Manor, said her Family was very excited to get the new park in the neighborhood.
"Personally, I see it as a blessing," she said. "It's a great opportunity for the community to come together and create something for the children to enjoy."
Towns said she has never seen anything like the mass community support at the playground in person.
"It's amazing -- I've only seen stuff like this on TV," she said. "It's exciting to be part of it."
Capt. Mike Burns, commander of Golf Company, 244th Quartermaster Battalion, 23rd QM Brigade, said 53 Soldiers from his unit volunteered to help build the playground. Originally, only 30 Golf Co. Soldiers were set to attend, but many others wanted to volunteer as well.
"There were several different things we could have done today, but we wanted to come out and contribute to the community," he said. "These Soldiers have little brothers or sisters or Families of their own, and they wanted to help out."
For the Burns Family, volunteering just comes naturally.
"Every time we hear about something out in the community, we try to volunteer and contribute," said Emma Burns, the captain's daughter, who spent the day painting. "It was a lot of fun being out here today."
The event featured a deejay who kept the crowd's spirits high and occasionally drew crowds to the dusty dance floor for various line dances.