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September 25, 2014

DES MOINES, IA - Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced the 10 $7,500 award winners of its 75th Anniversary celebration today along with another surprise — the company has selected six additional projects to receive $7,500.

"We were so impressed with the caliber of projects submitted, the importance of them to the communities, and the long lasting impact they will have on generations to come," said Laura Jackson, Wellmark's executive Vice President for health care innovation and business development.  "We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate our 75th anniversary than to pay it forward to 16 communities in Iowa and South Dakota that care about the health and well-being of their citizens."

The final 16 projects were chosen from more than 100 entries because they demonstrated a long-lasting impact on making the healthy choice the easy choice, and improving overall community health and wellness in their communities. The public also had the chance to weigh in on their favorite projects. More than 84,000 votes were received during the 19 day voting period that ended on Sept. 7.

The 16 winning projects that will receive $7,500 are:


  • Allen Park Gardens, Des Moines — Construction of a sustainable community garden to provide gardening classes and increase the accessibility of locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables. The park will also include a garden play area and community gathering space.
  • Bristow Betterment Splash Pad, Bristow — Addition of Butler County’s only splash pad to provide a safe and fun outdoor, physical activity for area residents and children.
  • Central Park Trails, Cherokee — A trail system to impact the physical and emotional health and well-being of its residents by providing safe access to downtown, pools, grocery stores and schools.
  • Help Us Build the Freeport Trail, Freeport — Construction of a 2.52 mile trail to connect two existing trails, and allow the residents of Decorah and Freeport to safely access schools, parks, farmers’ markets and other businesses — something that was only possible by car before.
  • Ironwood Park Basketball Court, Altoona — Construction of a basketball court in a new park that serves five existing housing developments and is accessible from an existing trail system.
  • Lake City Pool Project, Lake City — An ADA-compliant municipal pool facility to provide summer recreation, as well exercise opportunities for handicapped individuals and seniors.
  • Old Creamery Nature Trail Rest Area, Garrison — Creation of a trail-side rest area to provide shade and water for bicycles, walkers and joggers.
  • Masonic Park Renovation, Leon — Improvements to a current park to add new and healthy equipment, including handicap accessible play areas, as well as the creation of programming to encourage residents to use the park.
  • Mormon Trail Pool, Humeston — Repairs and updates to the current pool which serves four Iowa counties. The repairs will ensure the pool can remain open and available for community recreation.
  • Parks to People — Foot and Bike Bridge, Maquoketa — Addition of a foot and bike bridge to connect the new Prairie Creek Recreational Area to existing trails and assets in the community.
  • Villisca Swimming Pool, Villisca — Enhancements and repairs to the existing swimming pool to make much needed improvements, and to ensure the community pool is accessible for people of all ages to encourage exercise and recreation.
  • Washington Square park, Steamboat Rock — Creation of the only town park to include playground equipment, shelter and picnic facilities and upgrading the basketball courts.

South Dakota

  • Lake Andes Lake Front Park, Lake Andes — Renovate an existing lake area to include a playground, picnic area, walking trail, fishing area and a boat ramp.
  • Langford Fitness Center, Langford — Purchase of cardio equipment, as well as the construction of a public entrance to the current high school fitness room, so that the community can have a convenient and cost effective resource for wellness.
  • Murdo City Park Shared Use Path, Murdo — Enhancements and beautification of a shared path around the city park dam to improve the built environment leading to an outdoor environment to exercise.
  • Willow Park Community, Rapid City — Creation of a neighborhood pocket park to provide a safe place for young adults, children and families.