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Michael Wacha, UnitedHealthcare donate playground to local elementary school

By: Ellen Lampe

Some Parkway elementary students now have a brand new piece of equipment to play and make memories on, thanks to St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha and UnitedHealthcare.

The playground – made possible by a $20,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare and Wacha’s Dreambuilders program – was donated to the students at Carman Trails Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 5.

The Dreambuilders Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works with professional athletes across the country to help financially, physically and mentally challenged kids to receive the opportunities and equipment they need to reach their dreams.

Hundreds of excited Carman Trails Elementary students eagerly buzzed in the school parking lot as Wacha and leaders from UnitedHealthcare cut the ribbon to their new playground.

Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha at Carman Trails Elementary

“These kids are fired up. I don’t know if it’s to see me or the fact that they are out of school …” Wacha joked. “I’ll take it that they were excited to see me.”

After the ribbon was cut, several lucky kids were selected to play a game of Wiffle ball with Wacha before the crowd of students made a mad dash to test out the new equipment.

“It’s a positive and rewarding experience to be out here and see these kids exercising and having fun,” Wacha said. “It was a lot of fun seeing their excitement, seeing them run around … It was very beneficial.”

Superintendent Dr. Keith Marty [left] with Michael Wacha and representatives from UnitedHealthcare

Parkway’s Superintendent Dr. Keith Marty said he is grateful for the community partnerships.

“UnitedHealthcare is a partner that provides benefits for our employees, but more than that, they are always there to help us with wellness programs,” Marty said. “This is a really great example of what our partnership means.”

Parkway’s Assistant Superintendent Dr. Gina Piccinni said she received notice of the donation around the middle of last school year when she was the principal at Carman Trails. She got the call from Parkway School District CFO Patty Bedborough, who facilitated the process.

“We received a phone call from [United Healthcare],” Bedborough said. “We were chosen to be one of the districts to receive a playground. I reached out to principals who needed a playground and needed funding. Carman Trails was an easy selection.”

The students of Carman Trails Elementary and friends

Bedborough said they worked to get the largest and highest-quality playground within their budget allowance.

When the kids received the news of the new playground, Piccinni said they were ecstatic. “[Their excitement] was about what you saw here today. We did have a playground here but it was very, very old and outdated and not as fun. The kids couldn’t do as much. The parents, too … the parents were really excited.”

Dr. Allison Love took over as principal of Carman Trails Elementary in June. She said receiving this new addition for the kids was a great way to start her time as principal.

“I’m happy that we were able to partner with UnitedHealthcare and Dreambuilders and Mr. Wacha for this event. I know the Parkway School District really stands behind creating those partnerships and I’m so glad that we were able to do something that benefits our kids,” Love said.

Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha

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