Efforts to raise nearly $2 million to build Santa Cruz County’s first inclusive playground got a major boost with the announcement of a $100,000 donation from the Lions Clubs International Foundation.

LEO’s Haven at Chanticleer Park is one of only 18 projects worldwide selected during this review period by the foundation, which is the grant-making arm of Lions Clubs International. The playground’s sponsors are now just $400,000 shy of their $1.9 million private funding goal.

“We are enormously excited to be able to contribute to the ground-breaking effort of LEO’s Haven in such a manner,” said Bob Stewart, district governor of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest volunteer service organization. “Lions are all about hands-on service to the local community, and what better way than to help support a local playground for children and adults of all abilities.”

In addition, every Lions Club within Santa Cruz County contributed matching funds. Area clubs in Lions District 4-C6 supporting LEO’s Haven include Cabrillo Host Lions, Santa Cruz Host Lions, Freedom Lions, Scotts Valley Host Lions, Sunnyvale Host Lions, and San Jose Almaden Super Lions.

“We are grateful for the support of Lion Clubs International Foundation in awarding this significant grant to a project that will be of such benefit to our community,” said Tricia Potts, founder of the Santa Cruz Playground Project,“It’s also really special to see such widespread support from all the local Clubs.”

Potts and her husband, Bob Potts, initiated the effort to build an inclusive playground in Santa Cruz County in 2014 after taking their children to the opening of Tatum’s Garden in Salinas. The Potts children, twins Lauren and Evelyn, and Oliver, are the namesakes for LEO’s Haven, being developed by the all-volunteer Santa Cruz Playground Project in partnership with Los Angeles-based Shane’s Inspiration, the County of Santa Cruz, and the Chanticleer Park Neighbors Association.

Area Lions Clubs are doubling down on their commitment to the project by participating in an Adaptive Egg Hunt scheduled for March 31st from 9:30-11:30 at Twin Lakes Church. Families who have children ages 0-14 with visual impairments or other special needs are invited to register for the event at santacruzplaygroundproject.org.

The Scotts Valley Host Lions Club recently sponsored a beeper egg-making event where Scotts Valley Boy Scout Troops 604 and 614 assembled more than 60 beeper eggs for the March 31st adaptive hunt.  Beeper eggs emit loud beeps which allow a visually impaired child to find them.