This screen shot taken from Patronicity's fundraising page for Wabash shows a fitness court like the one planned for the Indiana city.  

The city of Wabash is hitting the ground running again after raising over $26,000 in local donations for a new outdoor fitness court.

The money was raised on a Patronicity crowd-funding page organized by the city and Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority CreatINg Places program. The original fundraising goal, per the Patronicity site, was $25,000, which, if reached, would result in the city receiving a matching grant of $25,000 from IHCDA.

The caveat for these IHCDA campaigns is that if the city fails to raise all of the money, no grant money is awarded by the department. As it has in the past, though, Wabash stepped up to the challenge and earned the extra $25,000 by its Aug. 5 deadline.

While many of the donations came in smaller amounts, $200 or less, some heavy hitters also came around, with two donors, Parkview Wabash Hospital and INGUARD, committing $5,000 apiece in exchange for being a “featured sponsor.” These businesses will have their logos displayed on one of the walls of the fitness court in recognition of their support.

“It was a big community effort,” Adam Hall, parks superintendent, said. “We had 70 letters sent out to individuals; we were sending out emails daily to community business people, we even made phone calls, making direct contacts.”

The city has a solid track record when it comes to reaching fundraising goals, especially when the stakes include a sizable matching grant. Hall said that this was the city’s fourth CreatINg Places campaign, with the last two taking place in back-to-back years.

In 2018, the city successfully raised more than $51,000 for a long-planned, all-inclusive playground, earning it the $50,000 matching grant. The decision this time around to devote the funds and efforts to a fitness court came from the city’s and Mayor Scott Long’s goal to encourage more families to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Hall believes that Wabash’s consistent achievement of fundraising goals and innovative uses for the funds are why IHCDA continues to award these campaigns and funds to the city.

“They see how committed we were and how committed the community was,” Hall said. “It’s a safer bet to go with Wabash because of how much interaction there is and how dedicated they are to reaching our goal.”

The community’s inclusion in these CreatINg Places, Hall noted, makes these projects extra special because the city takes a sense of ownership over them, feeling as though they had an integral role in making this a reality.

“It makes it more personal,” Hall said. “It makes them accountable. It’s now theirs, the community just gave $25,000 to have ownership of it. When you don’t have ownership, you don’t appreciate it, you don’t take care of it as well.”

As of Aug. 8, the concrete base for the fitness court has already been poured next to the Wabash River Plaza along the Wabash River Trail. Once the concrete is set, Hall said, the fitness equipment is expected to be built, installed and open to the public by late September.

There appears to be no downtime in Wabash, according to Hall, who was aware of another organization in Wabash that was looking to receive funding through the CreatINg Places program. Details about the organization or the project were not divulged.

There was another organization within Wabash I think applying for one,” Hall said. “It always seems like once we finish one, we’re always onto another.”

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