Warren County and its citizens have a wonderful reason to celebrate. The Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Free Wheeling Way Universally Accessible Playground took place on March 21, 2011. The structure, which will be added onto the existing Fantasyland Playground at Lion’s Park, will provide children with disabilities with a safe and sensory rich playground on which they will be able to play. The original design of the playground has been expanded over the winter, thanks to an anonymous $25,000 donation that the Free Wheeling Way Committee received. The expansion has allowed for the addition of many features including: belted swings, a scavenger hunt activity panel, a telescope and steering wheel, a sign language panel, and music panels. Additional seating, accessible picnic tables, and a shade structure will also be installed.
The Committee has been hard at work for over ten years raising funding to build the playground which cost just over $150,000. The project has received support from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Warren County Board of Supervisors, ARC of Warren County, the Rotary Club of Front Royal, and numerous other community businesses and organizations. A significant amount of money was also raised from the students and teachers of Warren County Public Schools, from private citizens, and from donations given in memory of Glenn Mikulak, an 18 year old resident of Warren County that passed away on October 19th from respiratory failure associated with his lifelong battle with muscular dystrophy.
The idea of building the Free Wheeling Way Playground came from Robin Stanley many years ago when her son Curtis, who suffered from cerebral palsy, was unable to play with his family on existing playground structures. Mrs. Stanley promised Curt that she would one day make sure he had a playground to play on with his brother and sister. Although Curtis passed away in 2002, the passion of the Stanley family and the Free Wheeling Way Committee never stopped. It is with hard work and dedication that they funded this playground and it will be a wonderful addition to the members of our community, regardless of their ability or disability.