This Miracle Is for You: MOM & POP

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Are miracles real? Doubters, say “hello” to Miracle on the Mountain Play Outside Park (MOM & POP) coming soon to the Highway 56-Highway 108 junction in Coalmont. The park will feature a splash pad and play areas reflecting the regions of Grundy County, for example a train for Coalmont and a barn and tractor for farming-centric Pelham. What is so miraculous about that? Plenty. “Everyone can play. No one is left out,” insisted Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady. Every facility and every piece of equipment will welcome children with disabilities to play alongside those without. The miracle has been over 10 years in the making.

The Miracle on the Mountain Park story began when Audrey and Keith Nunley contacted Jessica and Heath Winton. Both couples had sons with cerebral palsy. Audrey had a dream she wanted to turn into a reality: a park where children with disabilities to play alongside those without. The couples reached out to other parents with disabled children and formed MOM & POP. “We fed off Audrey’s dream,” Heath said. MOM & POP hosted bake sales and car washes to raise money, visited all-inclusive parks, brainstormed, and came up with the idea of a theme-park with multiple play areas representing the regions of the county. Grundy County High School donated land, the county commission made a contribution, MOM & POP met with a designer. But Heath conceded, the “hurdle of grants, paperwork and fees,” proved overwhelming. Then Audrey died of cancer.

Mayor Brady was aware of the project. He was also aware from his time serving as mayor of the challenges. “It would take a lot of hard work, dedication, and public support, because once you commit to something like this, there may be taxpayer money involved.” Then one day driving by North Elementary School, Brady saw a disabled child watching from the sidelines while other children ran and played. “It pricked my heart and mind,” Brady said. “So we started.” When Blue Cross Blue Shield denied the grant the county applied for, Brady went to visit Governor Bill Lee, a visit that earned the county a one-million dollar Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Grant. A $2.4 million dollar Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant followed, and MOM & POP contributed the money they raised to the county’s effort.

The county is pursuing other grant funding streams as well. Brady estimates the total cost at $4-5 million, leaving the project about $1 million short. Those who want to help can make contributions at any Citizens Tri-County Bank, earmarking their donation for MOM & POP. “I need money,” Brady acknowledged. The grant funds available will be released in April. “We’re going to pretend like we have all the money. We’re going to move forward.”

MOM & POP adopted the name Miracle on the Mountain Play Outside Park from Miracle Field park in Murfreesboro. The park features a baseball field with a padded surface designed to accommodate Miracle League teams composed of adults and children with disabilities. Play equipment on a flat surface or with a ramp welcomes children in wheelchairs. Heath recalls afternoons at a local park climbing a slide carrying his son and being exhausted after 10 or 15 minutes. “Not all kids want to go to school and learn math,” Heath said. “But all kids want to play.”

Early on, Brady considered omitting the splash pad and restrooms to cut costs, then put both back into the plan. He stressed the entire park would be “ADA functional.” “ADA functional is different from ADA compliant,” Brady explained. “An ADA compliant restroom would have one ADA equipped stall. In an ADA functional restroom, all stalls are ADA equipped.”

The entire park will welcome children with disabilities. The splash pad at MOM & POP will be ground level, rather than elevated, and feature water wheelchairs. The county purchased 25 acres for the park and design will take into account possible expansion, a ballfield, perhaps, an indoor basketball court, a rec center. “The next time we go back to the state for grants, the ballfield will be easy-peasy,” Brady said. “Folks will know we’re credible and grant worthy.”

Brady hopes to break ground by mid to late summer. The theme-based park will include an information kiosk celebrating the legacy and history of Grundy County. “I look for the park to be covered up with people,” Brady said. “If there’s something you want, there’s got to be a way.”

2024 May
2024 April
2024 March
2024 February
2024 January
2023 December
2023 November
2023 October
2023 September
2023 August
2023 July
2023 June
2023 May
2023 April
2023 March
2023 February
2023 January
2022 December
2022 November
2022 October
2022 September
2022 August
2022 July
2022 June
2022 May
2022 April
2022 March
2022 February
2022 January
2021 December
2021 November
2021 October
2021 September
2021 August
2021 July
2021 June
2021 May
2021 April
2021 March
2021 February
2021 January
2020 December
2020 November
2020 October
2020 September
2020 August
2020 July
2020 June
2020 May
2020 April
2020 March
2020 February
2020 January
2019 December
2019 November
2019 October
2019 September
2019 August
2019 July
2019 June
2019 May
2019 April
2019 March
2019 February
2019 January
2018 December
2018 November
2018 October
2018 September
2018 August
2018 July
2018 June
2018 May
2018 April
2018 March
2018 February
2018 January
2017 December
2017 November
2017 October
2017 September
2017 August
2017 July
2017 June
2017 May
2017 April
2017 March
2017 February
2017 January
2016 December
2016 November
2016 October
2016 September
2016 August
2016 July
2016 June
2016 May
2016 April
2016 March
2016 February
2016 January
2015 December
2015 November
2015 October
2015 September
2015 August
2015 July
2015 June
2015 May
2015 April
2015 March
2015 February
2015 January
2014 December
2014 November
2014 October
2014 September
2014 August
2014 July
2014 June
2014 May
2014 April
2014 March
2014 February
2014 January
2013 December
2013 November
2013 October
2013 September
2013 August
2013 July
2013 June
2013 May
2013 April
2013 March
2013 February
2013 January
2012 December
2012 November
2012 October
2012 September
2012 August
2012 July
2012 June
2012 May
2012 April
2012 March
2012 February
2012 January
2011 December
2011 November
2011 October
2011 September
2011 August
2011 July
2011 June
2011 May
2011 April
2011 March
2011 February
2011 January
2010 December
2010 November
2010 October
2010 September
2010 August
2010 July
2010 June
2010 May