Aug. 2 has been set as deadline for the Morgan’s Wonderland 2013 Walk of Fame nominations, according to Ron Morander, general manager of the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals of all ages in mind but built to be enjoyed by everyone.
“Each year, we honor five outstanding individuals who have been champions for the special-needs community,” Morander said. “These remarkable individuals embody character traits such as determination, caring, achievement, sacrifice and inclusion.”
Walk of Fame honorees will be recognized at the Free to Soar Gala on Friday evening, Sept. 20, at Morgan’s Wonderland, and their names will be added to the Walk and Roll Path that encircles the park’s scenic eight-acre lake.
A committee from Morgan’s Wonderland and The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, along with special advisors, will review nominations of not more than two typewritten pages submitted to WalkofFame@MorgansWonderland.com and select honorees. Complete nominating instructions can be found on the park’s website, www.MorgansWonderland.com.
Morander said an honoree might be a student who, regardless of a special need, perseveres at school and inspires other students; a wounded warrior who embraces life despite immense physical challenges and serves as a role model for other warriors; a dedicated employee who has earned the admiration of a supervisor and peers for a job well done; a parent or caregiver who has sacrificed to make a difference for those with special needs; or someone who works directly with the special-needs community to make a difference in numerous lives.
“Though we recognize that an individual might be a true inspiration or a hero to his or her family members, we’re looking for those who positively influence or help multiple individuals in spite of physical or cognitive challenges,” Morander said.
Names of the honorees will be embedded in round, translucent “stepping stones” featuring the Morgan’s Wonderland logo – a butterfly in flight – on the ¾-mile-long Walk and Roll Path. The pathway contains 88 of the 2-foot-in-diameter stepping stones that glow beginning at dusk.
Sponsorship information and other details about the Free to Soar Gala are available from Becky Thomas at (210) 493-2811.
Morgan’s Wonderland, which is completely wheelchair-accessible, features more than 25 attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, 18,000-square-foot special-events center, 575-seat amphitheater, picnic area and rest areas throughout the park. (Check www.MorgansWonderland.com for the latest information on days and hours of operation.) Admission for special-needs guests is free; admission for accompanying family members, friends, caregivers and the general public is nominal. Children age 2 and younger are also admitted free of charge.
The inspiration for Morgan’s Wonderland came from philanthropist Gordon Hartman’s 19-year-old daughter Morgan. Her soaring spirit despite personal challenges sparked within Hartman a deep desire to create a haven not only for those with special needs but also for their families, caregivers and invited friends. “Inclusion is the overarching objective,” he noted. “Everyone can have a good time at Morgan’s Wonderland.”
Morgan’s Wonderland is part of a larger 106-acre sports venue to encourage inclusive recreation whereby individuals of all abilities can play side-by-side. The nearby STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex offers 13 lighted soccer fields for tournaments and league play. Net profits from STAR Soccer go to support the operation and maintenance of Morgan’s Wonderland. Likewise, net profits from the San Antonio Scorpions FC pro soccer team and the team’s new, 8,000-seat home – Toyota Field – are also earmarked to expand programs and services at Morgan’s Wonderland for the special-needs community.
In addition, Monarch Academy, a school for students with special needs next to Morgan’s Wonderland, has just concluded its second year of instruction.
Morgan’s Wonderland is located in Northeast San Antonio just west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and