By MATT KOESTERS
HENRYVILLE — It looks like the Henryville Youth Sports Complex will be getting that playground after all.
HYS needed $20,000 to meet the matching requirement to receive a $50,000 grant from AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation and Medwise Hoosier Alliance by Feb. 18 for the construction of a playground. On the same day that a story about HYS’ funding shortfall appeared in the News and Tribune, HYS received every penny it needed to make the Safe Playground Build a reality, thanks to a $15,000 donation from Kosair Charities and a $5,000 donation from St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Henryville.
“I was quite shocked,” said Jennifer Badger with HYS. “I thought maybe several groups or several individuals might come together with donations.”
The $5,000 donation from St. Francis Xavier Church put HYS a quarter of the way to their $20,000 fundraising goal, but HYS still needed $15,000. WAVE-TV picked up the story and aired it the same evening.
“WAVE 3 saw your story in the paper, and they contacted us and met us out at the ballpark, and interviewed us about the project,” Badger told the News and Tribune. “They put it on their 6 o’clock news show and before the news was even over, Kosair Charities ... had contacted Brian Goode at WAVE 3 and told him they would cover the full $15,000 that we needed to get the playground.”
Kosair Charities Chairman Jerry Ward saw WAVE-TV’s report and contacted Kosair President Randy Coe. Coe contacted WAVE-TV to see how they could help.
“Without hesitation, I told [WAVE-TV’s Brian Goode] that we would provide the full $15,000,” Coe said.
Kosair Charities’ mission is to help children in need.
“This year, we’ve committed over $17 million to help our Kosair Kids, and the kids in Henryville are now part of that group,” Coe said. “We’re very pleased that we’re being given the opportunity to be in the right place, I guess you could say, at the right time to make a difference in the lives of children.”
The playground will be constructed on May 18. HYS volunteers will get started at 7 a.m. putting the equipment together, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 2:30 p.m. that day. Volunteers are needed to help with the build, Badger said.
“The more we can get, the better,” Badger said. “If we have too many, we’ll put them on other projects and things.”
Although HYS now has the funds it needs to match the grant and purchase the playground equipment, there are other improvements that need to be made at the park. The complex needs to extend the home-run fences of the baseball fields near the playground site, and a walking path and shelters for the park are still in the works.
“Any additional donations that come in, they will definitely be put to good use,” Badger said.
To donate or to volunteer for the Safe Playground Build, contact Badger at 513-376-3839 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate to Kosair Charities, call 502-637-7696 or visit www.kosair.org.