Bailey (left) and Hayden Olesen cross the finish line at the 2017 Red Deer Chocolate Chase Sunday at Village Mall. (Photo by MURRAY CRAWFORD/Advocate staff)

Chocolate Chase supports Red Deer’s barrier-free playground as it nears reality

After going for a Sunday morning run, there was plenty of chocolate waiting at the finish line for Chocolate Chase participants.

Sunday was the fourth annual Chocolate Chase in Red Deer. Starting from Village Mall, 6320 50th Ave., participants ran or walked three, five or 10 km, raising money to build a barrier-free playground in Red Deer.

The playground is an initiative between the Rotary clubs in Red Deer, Mattie McCullough Elementary School and the City of Red Deer.

It is under construction, and Leslee Burton, event organizer, said crews were finishing off the first stage so the kids will “have a place to play.”

“That’s the first phase and we will continue to do our fundraising for our second phase,” said Burton, adding the hope is the second phase will be done in 2018.

So far, about $420,000 has been raised to build the playground over three years. For both phases to be completed, roughly $500,000 will have to be raised.

Across the finish line was a carnival-like atmosphere featuring a bouncy castle, chocolate and more activities for event participants.

When completed, the 12,000 square foot play area will be wheel-chair accessible and feature slides, monkey bars and a rubberized floor, to allow easier movement than sand. Phase two will add a zipline and more to the play structures.

Though she didn’t have official numbers on how much was raised on Sunday, she estimated the event would bring in about $5,000.

“People are really enjoying it,” said Burton. “We’ve had really good sponsorship from our community supporters.

“It’s family friendly. It’s fun and it’s something for families to do together.”

According to the Access For All Barrier-Free Playground website, it will help educate the typically-able by enabling them to meet and play alongside the disabled and it will encourage the disabled to learn new skills, gain confidence and be active.

A grand opening for the first phase of the playground, 26 Lawford Ave., is scheduled for Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. The next fundraiser for the playground is Wingfest, also on Sept. 9, for tickets visit The Rotaract Club of Red Deer Facebook Page.

For more information on the playground visit www.accessforallreddeer.ca.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

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