May 24, 2018
SAN ANTONIO – Philanthropist Susan Naylor, founder of The Will Smith Foundation that assists multiple charitable causes, will serve as honorary chairperson for the Luau by the Lake benefit set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at ultra-accessible™ Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park.
The luau will be held in conjunction with the 9th Annual Free to Soar Gala at Morgan’s Wonderland that raises funds to support the world-renowned, non-profit theme park, The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland school for students with special needs and The Bridge at Morgan’s Wonderland that prepares older students for adulthood and possible employment.
“In addition to our traditional gala that we’ve hosted for almost 600 people for the past eight years, we’ll be expanding to accommodate another 300 supporters at Morgan’s Inspiration Island,” said Gordon Hartman, founder of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation that created the parks and other initiatives to help the special-needs community.
“We’re truly delighted Susan Naylor has agreed to be honorary chairperson for our festive luau. She has been a very generous supporter of our mission of inclusion. A splash pad at Morgan’s Inspiration Island – Will’s Hang Ten Harbor – is named in her late son’s memory and is going to be the backdrop for the luau.”
The luau and the gala in the Morgan’s Wonderland Event Center will be linked via giant LED screens. Other highlights will include a live auction, the introduction of five Wall of Fame honorees who have excelled in helping special-needs individuals and a 25th birthday celebration for Morgan Hartman, daughter of Gordon and Maggie Hartman whose ability to deal with physical and cognitive challenges inspired her parents to pursue major initiatives that help people with special needs.
“Resort chic” casual will be the attire for the tropically-themed luau and gala. Afterwards, guests will gather for an after-party at the Starlight Amphitheater, complete with hula and fire dancers and a concert by noted local musician Ruben V, who performs a smooth blend of blues, Latin, soul and rock music. Guests also can enjoy Morgan’s Wonderland rides including the colorful carousel, Whirling Wonder Ferris wheel and Wonderland Express train.
To purchase sponsorships or tickets, go to www.MorgansWonderland.com/get-involved/gala-and-luau.
Completely-wheelchair-accessible Morgan’s Wonderland features more than 25 attractions including rides, playgrounds and gardens. Last year, it was proclaimed “Park of the Year” during the prestigious Golden Ticket Awards hosted by Amusement Today, a publication covering the international theme parks and attractions industry. Morgan’s Inspiration Island, which opened last June, offers five colorful splash pads, the River Boat Adventure ride and revolutionary waterproof wheelchairs. It earned the World Waterpark Association’s Leading Edge Award.
Both parks, designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment, recently received the Paralyzed Veterans of America organization’s 2018 Barrier-Free America award. Specifics about the parks’ days and hours of operation, admissions and special events are available at www.MorgansWonderland.com, while information about The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland can be found at www.MorgansWonderland.academy.
Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island and The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland are located in Northeast San Antonio a half-mile west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive. For more information, call (210) 495-5888.