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Kingport Kiwanis honors Mary Steadman for selfless service

Submitted by James S. Cornell • Oct 8, 2018 at 5:43 PM

The Kingsport Kiwanis Club is honored to announce that Mary Steadman is the recipient of the 2018 “Kiwanis Spirit of Kingsport Award.” The award was established a few years ago to recognize a non-Kiwanian for their community volunteer work.

Mary is a community servant; she is also a wife, a mother, a caregiver and an employee. Somehow, she manages to balance all her responsibilities and do them exceptionally well.

Mary’s sister, Diane, had special needs. Along with past Kiwanis president Darrell Rice, who had a handicapped son, they formed the Friends of Warriors Path State Park. The “Friends” was a group of concerned citizens that wanted to help the park through the “Friends” non-profit organization. The “Friends” focused on improving, protecting and preserving Warriors Path State Park.

In 2005, Mary and Darrell had the idea of building a playground at the park that would permit children of all abilities to play together - a “boundless” playground. They interviewed families with handicapped children to determine what to put in the playground. Next came a major fundraising effort to obtain the millions of dollars needed to create a special place. Mary, her mother and sister, Diane, helped with the fundraising by addressing, stamping and mailing fundraising letters to companies and individuals in our area. When the funds were raised, Mary supervised the construction of the playground.

When Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground opened in 2007, Mary continued to care for the playground by organizing semi-annual community work days to clean and repair the area. She lined up a large number of volunteers in the spring and fall, including Master Gardeners, church groups, clubs and individuals. The volunteers remove leaves and sticks; wash all the equipment, bathrooms, shelters and signs; weed the area; spread new mulch and gravel; and prepare the playground for the thousands of families that visit each month. In preparation for the work days, Mary would contact local businesses to get donations of food, water, cleaning supplies and yard tools. She not only organized the semi-annual work days, she got her hands dirty with the hundreds of volunteers - the first to arrive and the last to leave.

The fall work day at the Boundless Playground will be held Saturday, Oct. 27, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

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