NEWS December 2nd, 2016

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Georgia Walsh fundraiser enters last month

Mother hopes to reach $1M goal in daughter's memory by year-end

Jillian Walsh is in the home stretch toward reaching the $1-million fundraising goal to revitalize the playground at Trace Manes Park.

And she wants Leasiders to know this is the last month the Remembering Georgia Walsh charity is continuing to pursue its year-end goal.

Though the fundraiser received a big infusion from developer Shane Baghai — a total of $250,000 — they’re still $150,000 off their mark.

“If we get to $1 million before the end of the year, that’s our goal, and we’d be ecstatic,” Walsh said.

The city has an 85-year replacement cycle for playgrounds and its target is 30 years. Trace Manes is not on the 10-year replacement list. So Walsh and company took it upon themselves to expedite the process of making the playground safer and more accessible.

What’s proposed is a new landscaped green space, shade structure, seating area, full fencing around the perimeter, a new playground, rubberized surface, special needs equipment and a splash pad. A balloon donor wall is also in the works, where those who lend a financial hand of $500 or more will get recognition. A final date for completion has been set for a grand opening is Spring 2018.

On the agenda is a Jump for Georgia initiative Dec. 8 at Maurice Cody Junior Public School, as well as a direct mail campaign.

“This is a community initiative, and it is a playground for the community,” Walsh told the Town Crier in late November. “I know as a resident how good it feels to be a part of a big initiative and I don’t want people to miss out on that opportunity.”

She said her pursuit to create a positive and safe play space for children in Leaside is driven by three markers: a way to channel her grief from the nonsensical loss of her daughter, to bring the community together, and to pay tribute to Georgia through revitalizing her favourite spot.

“How do you take something that leaves a hole in your heart, and fill that hole?” Walsh asked. “This is my way to fill that hole. We were really touched with how much people in the community, outside the community, strangers even and this is another way for us to give back.”

Even though the team the fundraiser is winding down, they’re still ramping up efforts in Leaside to reach that final goal. They’ll be doing a direct mail campaign, as well as using Instagram and Facebook to spread the word.

“I don’t want people to feel they’ve missed that window,” she said. “Clearly this is one of those cases where it takes a village, and every penny counts, small or large. That’s what’s made this successful.”