Today, the Wellmark Foundation was recognized during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ashley Okland Star Playground at Ewing Park in southeast Des Moines. The Foundation awarded a $50,000 MATCH grant to Variety – the Children’s Charity of Iowa last year to aid in the construction of the playground.
“The Wellmark Foundation is committed to improving the well-being of Iowans and bettering their communities,” said Stephanie Perry, The Wellmark Foundation. “This inclusive playground will provide an unprecedented opportunity for local youth of all abilities to engage in fun physical activity with peers, and we are excited to be a part of bringing this project to life in Des Moines.”
Variety has raised more than $500,000 from various donors to fund the project – an inclusive playground designed for children with cognitive and physical disabilities. It is named in honor of Ashley Okland, a realtor and member of the Young Variety Board who was killed in April of 2011.
“We are thrilled to help bring the first inclusive park to Des Moines,” said Sheri McMichael, Executive Director of Variety. “Ashley truly was a rising star who went above and beyond in her commitment to others. This playground is a perfect way to honor and recognize her spirit, and contribute to her lasting legacy in the community.”
The Wellmark Foundation is one for four “Rising Star” donors being recognized at the groundbreaking ceremony, along with more than 130 other corporate and individual donors who contributed to the project. Other top-tier donors include John R. & Zelda Z. Grubb Charitable Foundation, Iowa Association of Realtors®, and Polk County Board of Supervisors.
For more information on the Ashley Okland Star Playground groundbreaking, please contact Sheri McMichael of Variety at 515-243-4660. For more information on grant opportunities through the Wellmark Foundation, contact Stephanie Perry at 605-373-7429.
About The Wellmark Foundation
The Wellmark Foundation is a private, non-profit foundation created by Wellmark, Inc., doing business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Please visit The Wellmark Foundation's Web site to learn more about our grant program, as well as a list of previous grant recipients. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and The Wellmark Foundation are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.