Perryville youth Lucas Fritsche recently received $50,000 from the Perry County Commission, money that will be used to help fund his all-inclusive playground project, the Lucas and Friends Backyard Adventures playground.
The money was collected from the county’s Local Park Sales Tax fund. The commisioners are just another local entity that that has donated to the project.
“Mayor Ken Baer said that the fund was something that we should look into,” said Jennifer Fritsche, Lucas’ mother. “We went to a county commissioners meeting and told them about the project. They were very interested in partnering with us.”
The playground will be broken into two phases, each totaling nearly $500,000.
Fritsche said that will go a long way to helping reach their phase one goal.
“We appreciate any amount of money, but that grant is a big help,” Fritsche said. “With that money accounted for we are abour $160,000 away from the goal.”
Earlier this year, the Knights of Columbus donated a portion of their funds from the organization’s Tootsie Roll drive in the form of more than $2,800.
This playground has been a two-year mission for the Fritsche family.
Lucas was inspired to create a playground accessible for all when as an elementary student, he noticed one of his class members rarely joined other children outside for recess due to the classmate’s wheelchair. After learning from his classmate how difficult it was to even get to the playground much less play, Lucas made it his mission to give his new friend the chance to play.
“Lucas just wanted to help his friend and it has grown into this big million dollar project,” Fritsche said. “It’s unreal.”
The new park, slated to open soon, will be located at Robert J. Miget Memorial Park on French Lane, next to the City of Perryville’s newly opened splash pad.
Unlimited Play is an award-winning nonprofit organization that builds universally inclusive playgrounds to promote health and wellness and change communities by providing freedom of play for all children.
Lucas and his family are still soliciting donations for the playground.
They established a goal of raising $1 million, and have been hosting fundraisers and asking for contributions over the last two years.
More information about their project can be found on their Facebook page at Lucas & Friends Backyard Adventures Playground.
“I never had the thought that the playground could grow this big,” Fritsche said. “It’s definitely exciting, but also a challenge.”