New playground becomes Jake's Field of Dreams
Jake Vollmer was like most young boys. He envisioned himself on an athletic field, maybe with a baseball bat at hand, or cradling a football as he raced downfield.
Or maybe it was swishing a jump shot just before the horn sounded or kicking a game-winning goal.
While Jake never had the chance to accomplish those athletic feats, he still enthusiastically cheered for those who played the games he could not.
At an early age, Jake was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which causes severe muscle weakness and worsens quickly. He was 19 when he passed away in 2012.
“He always wanted to play sports,” said Amie Bossi, Unlimited Play development director.
Jake’s spirit — and love for sports — will live on forever. Unlimited Play, a non-profit organization based in St. Charles County, is currently in the final stages of fundraising to build an all-inclusive playground in Wentzville. Named Jake’s Field of Dreams, it will be located at Heartland Park, located at 100 William Dierberg Dr.
The design of the playground recognizes Jake’s love of sports. Some of the features include a replica of a baseball field, climbing bars that mimic a football helmet and a zip line between two football goal posts.
An all-inclusive playground features equipment for children with disabilities, but is also open to children of all abilities.
“No child should ever have to sit on the sidelines,” Bossi said. “Our goal and mission is for every playground to be inclusive for every child.”
The overall project cost will top $1 million. Approximately $100,000 still needs to be raised to reach the fundraising goal, Bossi said.
Unlimited Play was recently awarded a $5,000 Operation Round Up grant to be used for Jake’s Field of Dreams. Grant funds come from Cuivre River Electric Cooperative members who voluntarily pay the round up amount on their monthly electric bill and donate to the Community Trust.
“We appreciate this generous donation,” Bossi said.
Unlimited Play's first venture, Zachary's Playground, opened in Lake Saint Louis in 2007, a project also supported by Operation Round Up funds. Since then, the organization has opened more than a dozen other playgrounds, including in cities such as O’Fallon, St. Charles, Clayton, Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis. Other projects are underway in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Jake’s Field of Dreams is the biggest playground Unlimited Play has planned and designed. The project is on schedule to open next year, with construction slated to start in the spring. An estimated 62,000 children and families are expected to utilize the playground annually.
Organizers like Bossi are ready to see the joy on children’s faces when Jake’s Field of Dreams is unveiled.
“The kids are so excited about the playground,” Bossi said. “It will be amazing.”
Operation Round Up addresses needs in the areas of health, education, home weatherization, youth, community and emergency services that cannot be met with other resources.