The West Wateree Playground Project took a major step toward completion with a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday morning at the site off U.S. 1 between Lugoff and Elgin.
Mistress of Ceremonies Heather Matthews gave a brief history of the playground's inception, which started with a simple idea by Laurey Carpenter in December 2013.
"She's a go getter and she wasn't going to be stopped once the idea was given," Matthews said. "In Ausgust 2014, fundraising began for $300,000 for this state-of-the-art project."
Matthews said the total amount was raised over the following nine months, thanks to foundation grants, local school children, the Lugoff Fire-Rescue Department and dozens more concerned businesses and individuals.
The playground is designed to be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which means it may be used by anyone regardless of any physical limitations they may have.
"This will be not only the first ADA playground in Kershaw County, but it will be the largest ADA playground in the Midlands region," Matthews said. "That is a draw for the families who could use a little blessing. I'm exceptionally proud of our county and of many of you who have stepped up and helped."
The fundraising was capped off at the groundbreaking when Cathy Kennedy, JoAnn Turnquist and David Laird of the Central Carolina Community Foundation presented Carpenter a check for a $50,000 grant from the foundation.
"We are so delighted to be a part of this," Kennedy said. "Last year the board of Central Carolina determined that we want everyone to know the Midlands of South Carolina is a wonderful place to live. We wanted people who live here to feel connected to their community."
Carpenter thanked her family; Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter and their three children, the steering committee of the project, the government leaders and the donors who made the project possible.
"Over the past two years, this has been my passion. This has been my fourth child," she said. "With support from the community we surpassed our fundraising effort. We have established a new foundation called P.L.A.Y., which is a Place of Learning for Active Youth. We plan to improve the quality of life in Kershaw County, while enhancing the physical and social development of our children."
Carpenter said with the P.L.A.Y. foundation, the West Wateree project is only the first of many to come.
"With the passion and with the individuals of our county, we're going to be able to do astronomical things. My goal is to be known not just in the state, but in the southeast region," Carpenter said. "We're going to be a destination for the Midlands area. In less than two years we went from an idea to a reality."