SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara's first fully inclusive playground, known as Gwendolyn's Playground, is one step closer to fruition.
More than 300 people gathered Friday night for a fundraising event at Dos Pueblos Ranch. Together, they raised $850,000 for the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation and its Never Give Up mission.
The playground project is in honor of Gwendolyn Strong, who captured the hearts of the community while living Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). She died in 2014 at the age of seven.
However, her legacy will have a lasting impact on the community for generations to come.
Victoria Strong, CEO and Founder of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation (and Gwendolyn's mother), said so far, $5 million dollars has been raised for the cause. That includes a generous $50,000 donation from the annual Montecito Bank & Trust Dividends awards.
"It's been such a collaborative community effort. Everything from schools and businesses and then we've had some wonderful large donors come in," said Strong. "I think it really speaks volumes about the importance of this project and that there's a need. And, not only are we building a playground, we're creating equity."
Strong said the project received full approval from the City of Santa Barbara and the Planning Commission. She even shared that in recent meetings and hearings, the project was referred to as "the most exciting playground in Santa Barbara's history."
Still, another $1 million dollars is needed to break ground. The goal is for that to happen "this time, next year."
Strong said the project will take about a year to build out.
Click here to learn more or to make a donation.