ST. CHARLES – Hundreds of children swarmed Pottawatomie Park on Wednesday for the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association’s Day in the Park, which boasted such activities as a bungee run, bouncy basketball and sport wheelchair races.
Watching a group of kids dance to pop songs, Fox Valley Special Recreation Association Executive Director Carolyn Nagle said the 14th annual event is a highlight for many of the association’s summer camp participants, who have cognitive, emotional, behavioral and physical disabilities.
“It’s something they all look forward to,” she said, noting most children at the event were between ages 3 and 11.
Nagle estimated that 900 people attended Wednesday’s day of play, including staff, volunteers and kids from the association’s member park districts.
She noted the inclusive, three-hour event receives strong support from the St. Charles Noon Kiwanis, which not only provides funding but also sends volunteers to help.
“We really couldn’t do it without them,” Nagle said.
Kiwanis President Betsy Penny, who greeted child after child as they lined up to get temporary tattoos, said Day in the Park is a favorite among club members. Some even take a vacation day to help, she said.
“This is so much fun,” Penny said, occasionally pausing to mark the children’s wristbands. “We get much more out of it than we give.”
Denis Haggerty said he has volunteered for Day in the Park since he joined Kiwanis several years ago. He also serves on the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association Foundation Board, a fundraising arm for the association, he said, adding it is planning a wine tasting event for Nov. 22.
Haggerty explained why he supports the association.
“You’re looking at it,” Haggerty said as he took a break from supervising children on the double ladder inflatable activity.
While some children continued to play in the sweltering heat, others took an ice cream break. Kiwanis member Tom Anderson of Colonial Cafe and Ice Cream supplied 1,200 cups of the cold dessert.
“I think ice cream is maybe the most popular treat a kid could have,” he said.