Oct. 6, 2020
SAN ANTONIO – Morgan’s Wonderland, City of San Antonio and Bexar County officials gathered today for a virtual ribbon-cutting to mark completion of Morgan’s Wonderland Sports (MWS), a $4-million complex providing fitness and competition for athletes with different abilities.
“It’s the latest addition to our growing ‘family’ of ultra-accessible™, fully-inclusive facilities for those with and without special needs,” said Gordon Hartman, who spearheaded creation of unique Morgan’s Wonderland theme park and other ventures to help the special-needs community. “We’re also proud to announce that MWS is now the new home of the state headquarters for Special Olympics Texas (SOTX).”
Officials in addition to Hartman who celebrated MWS at the ribbon-cutting ceremony included San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, District 10 City Councilman Clayton Perry, SOTX CEO Tim Martin, Bexar County Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert, Morgan’s Wonderland Inclusion Foundation CEO Ron Morander and Dr. Sean Maika, superintendent of the North East Independent School District (NEISD).
The school district enabled MWS to be built close to Morgan’s Wonderland and adjacent to NEISD’s Heroes Stadium on Thousand Oaks Drive. MWS adds to an expanding list of recreational and sports venues in the former Longhorn Quarry of Northeast San Antonio now known as Wonderland, Texas.
As a result of the COVID-19 health emergency, MWS will open in stages in accord with the guidance of local health officials. Hartman expressed high hopes that a grand opening celebration can be held in conjunction with the hoped-for 2021 reopening of Morgan’s Wonderland, which made the difficult decision to close for the remainder of 2020 because of the pandemic.
In addition to SOTX, MWS will house STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Para Sports), which offers athletes with physical disabilities and visual impairments the chance to take part in 13 sports; and Club Morgan, a new program in partnership with the YMCA of Greater San Antonio that pairs individuals with special needs and buddies for sports, recreation and friendship.
Three-acre MWS offers 28 court or field combinations including two baseball/softball fields, five tennis courts, 20 pickleball courts, a football field, a basketball court and a volleyball court. It also includes an 8,000-square-foot covered pavilion and a separate stage to serve as focal point for walks to raise funds for charitable organizations, performances and other special events. More than 2 acres of concrete playing surfaces have been painted to minimize heat from the sun and striped in accordance with regulation dimensions for the various sports.
Support facilities include special LED lighting for athletes with visual impairments, wheelchair-accessible restrooms, bottle refill water fountains and sports fencing for tennis, pickleball and other sports to keep balls in play. More details are available at www.MorgansWonderlandSports.com.
“Development of MWS has followed the successful pattern utilized for Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island and currently-under-construction Morgan’s Wonderland Camp on the city’s far north side,” Hartman added. “My 27-year-old daughter with special needs, Morgan, provided the inspiration, and a team of dedicated individuals who’ve worked closely with the special-needs community brainstormed what a completely-accessible sports center would encompass.”
SOTX’s Martin said the decision to relocate the state headquarters to office space at MWS grew out of the partnership that emerged during the highly-successful 2019 SOTX Summer Games hosted by Morgan’s Wonderland and The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation.
“Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, SOTX had to make the tough decision to cancel the 2020 Summer Games,” he added, “but that hasn’t slowed us down. With great hope and anticipation for better days ahead, we and Morgan’s Wonderland are already looking forward to the 2021 Summer Games set for April 30 through May 2.”
Martin said the move to San Antonio will foster greater cooperation between SOTX and Morgan’s Wonderland. “Now, two leading organizations in helping others can work more closely together to promote our ultimate shared goal – inclusion,” he said. “Working together, we can improve the quality of life for individuals of all ages and all abilities.”
Hartman hailed SOTX’s move to San Antonio as another significant step forward for “Inclusion City, USA.”
“In 2015, when we were celebrating the 5th birthday of Morgan’s Wonderland, the City Council proclaimed San Antonio as ‘Inclusion City, USA’ because of accelerating efforts to help individuals better understand the challenges faced daily by those with disabilities,” he said. “That focus on inclusion continues with initiatives such as the current one by San Antonio International Airport to better accommodate travelers with special needs. In addition, we’ve supported City Hall for All, a project to make San Antonio City Hall fully accessible, and we’re now engaged in a similar effort aimed at improving accessibility at Bexar County Courthouse.”
“We’re all about bringing together those with and without special needs in safe, colorful, non-judgmental, barrier-free environments where the common denominator of play leads to acceptance and understanding,” Hartman added.
About Morgan’s Wonderland
Non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland, which is completely wheelchair-accessible, is the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment. It was scheduled to celebrate its 10th birthday in April, however the park felt it necessary to close for the rest of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Morgan’s Wonderland and many other initiatives to help the special-needs community have been spearheaded by The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation. The park is located in Northeast San Antonio at 5223 David Edwards Drive, a half-mile west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive. For more information, visit www.MorgansWonderland.com.
About Morgan’s Wonderland Inclusion Foundation (MWIF)
Because the success of Morgan’s Wonderland has generated new venues to help those with special needs, MWIF was created to coordinate fundraising, planning and communication among all the Morgan’s Wonderland-associated entities. These include Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park, Morgan’s Wonderland Sports, Morgan’s Wonderland Camp and new projects in the planning stages such as The MAC (Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland). For more information, visit www.MorgansWonderland.com/MWIF or email MWIF@MorgansWonderland.com.
About Special Olympics Texas
Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) is a privately-funded, non-profit organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect. SOTX provides continuing opportunities for more than 58,800 children and adults with intellectual disabilities throughout the Lone Star State to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. To learn more, visit www.specialolympicstexas.org or call (800) 876.5646. Further engage on: Twitter @SOTexas; fb.com/SpecialOlympicsTX; youtube.com/specialolympicstexas.
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