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$100K anonymous donation jump-starts inclusive playground
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$100K anonymous donation jump-starts inclusive playground


A rendering of the initial Everybody Plays inclusive playground proposed in Clear Lake that costs about $250,000. The playground will be funded through donations, grants and fundraisers.

The Everybody Plays Committee is one step closer to making the inclusive playground a reality in Clear Lake.

That’s thanks to an anonymous donor who gave $100,000 toward the project earlier this month.

“(He) really wanted to kickstart our efforts and get this built,” said Christina Maulsby, a committee member.

The funds will go toward groundwork, specialized playground equipment and surfacing and project management.

Everybody Plays is a community initiative to build an inclusive playground in Clear Lake that would provide children and adults of all ages and abilities the opportunity to play together.

There have been discussions about building the playground on 12th Avenue South within the city’s 30-acre Outlet Recreation Complex or on South 15th Street near the city’s Aquatic Center.

It was the committee’s goal to begin construction on the inclusive playground this summer, but because of fundraising and the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s decided to delay it until 2021.

“With COVID-19, it’s not the time to have people coming out and building a playground,” Maulsby said. “This is everybody’s playground, and I want this to be built by everyone in the community.”

The committee has been fundraising for the project — estimated to cost at least $275,000 — for more than two years.

WATCH NOW: Work is underway at the site of a hotel and event center project near the junction of Highway 122 and Interstate 35 in Clear Lake. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Monday.

Maulsby and her husband, Grant, of Clear Lake, who are the parents of two children with autism, launched the project’s fundraising with the “Everybody WINS when Everybody Plays” event, including entertainment, food and silent and live auction, in May 2018.

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Since then, the Everybody Plays Committee has hosted multiple fundraisers as well as received private and business donations and grants.

In March, the committee was forced to postpone its adult prom fundraiser due to the coronavirus.

Maulsby said the committee has seen slow, steady progress over the years, and she is excited to see their vision coming to full realization.

“I’m so grateful for the community we live in because it’s a community that really cares and rallies around everybody,” she said.

The Maulsbys came up with the idea for the Everybody Plays inclusive playground more than three years ago while visiting Ankeny’s inclusive playground with their children.


A rendering of the Everybody Plays inclusive playground proposed in Clear Lake that costs $250,000. The playground will be funded through donations, grants and fundraisers.

Maulsby said more funding is needed to complete the project in its original scope, and the committee is inviting more community partners to participate.

“We’re much, much closer, but we still have some to go,” she said. “The more money we get, the bigger the playground.”

In addition to the $100,000 anonymous gift, the committee has received $50,000 from the Hanson Foundation, $14,500 from the Clear Lake and Mason City Rotaries, $5,000 from McKesson Corp., $5,500 from the Iowa Knights of Columbus, $5,000 from the First Citizens Charitable Foundation, $5,500 Bicycle, Blues, and BBQ Festival, $1,000 from Alliant Energy, $1,767 from Clear Lake Fareway, amongst funds from private donations, grants, and fundraisers.

Maulsby believes when the inclusive playground is finished it will be another draw for Clear Lake and North Iowa.

Those interested in donating to the inclusive playground project are encouraged to do so by visiting Clear Lake Bank & Trust or messaging the Everybody Plays Facebook page.

Ashley Stewart covers Clear Lake and arts and entertainment in North Iowa for the Globe Gazette. You can reach her at or by phone at 641-421-0533. Follow Ashley on Twitter at GGastewart.


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