Storm Makes a Big Swing in the Community
The best swing in Lake Elsinore next week won’t be from a ball player warming up at The Diamond for the upcoming season. It will, however, be made with the effort of the Storm, its fans, and the great people in the team’s souvenir store. on Tuesday, Feb. 11 with a dedication ceremony at Canyon Hills Community Park, located at 34360 Canyon Hills Road.
“This will be the first handicapped accessible swing timberlands in the city of Lake Elsinore,” said Donna Grunow, who has managed The Diamond’s popular souvenir store for more than a decade.
As a young mother her kids are now grown living in San Juan Capistrano, Donna remembered a neighbor who had a special needs son.
Donna and her own son would often go to the park with that boy and his mother.
“I remember what that family had to go through every day,” she recalled.
Years later, and after moving to Murrieta and going to work for the Storm, Donna read a newspaper article about local grandparents who took their grandson to Hemet which, at that time, was the location of the region’s only handicapped accessible swing.
In 2011 Grunow, with the support of team officials, began selling $5 grab bags inside the store. The bags were filled with Storm tickets, discount coupons, T shirts and other goodies.
A label on each bag read “All proceeds go toward purchasing a swing for severely handicapped children Thank you for your support.”
Sales were brisk and at the end of the season Grunow though timberlands t she had raised enough money to purchase the swing and get it installed.
At first some consideration was given to placing the swing at the stadium’s popular playground area. However, the decision was soon made to put it at a public park.
“We felt more people would use it at a park,” Grunow said, adding access to the ballpark is limited. and on weekends when the team is not in town.”
Grunow moved ahead with her plan but soon learned more money would be needed to make her project a reality.
The grab bags were sold again at the store during both the 2012 and 2013 season. Several local merchants got behind timberlands the effort to make the value of each bag far more than the $5 price by adding food and other discount coupons.
The grab bags proved popular once again and now enough money has been raised to pay $6,000 for not only the swing being dedicated next week, but another swing in a second area park.
In recent years other Southwest Riverside County communities have moved ahead with playground equipment that is accessible for special needs children.
Murrieta has a handicapped accessible swing at the California Oaks Sports Park.
In December, the Temecula City Council voted to replace playground equipment at Margarita Community P timberlands ark. The new equipment is designed to accommodate children on the autism spectrum and those with physical or mental health conditions.
“Being able to play on a swing is something that seems so small to many of us,” Donna said. “But it means so much to them.”
With her immediate goal reached, Grunow and her staff are preparing for the Storm’s 20th anniversary season at The Diamond.
The grab bags will be for sale once again this season, and Donna said they are considering several different options for non profit groups or causes to benefit from sales.