One door closes, another opens

Dallas loses to Redmond in Moda Assist Program

Roger Jordan Park was up against two others for a chance to win new equipment. Redmond's Baker Park won by 961 votes.

Photo by Emily Mentzer
Roger Jordan Park was up against two others for a chance to win new equipment. Redmond's Baker Park won by 961 votes.

DALLAS — The Cinderella-team spirit that nearly had Dallas outvoting a city twice its size in the Moda Assist Program contest may continue in a grassroots effort to raise money for all-abilities playground equipment.

Redmond edged Dallas 33,788 to 32,827 in the contest that would have paid for all-abilities equipment for Roger Jordan Community Park. The contest is a partnership between Moda Health and The Portland Trail Blazers to provide $10 for every assist the Blazers record toward purchasing equipment.

Moda Assist voting

Moda Assist voting

Redmond — 33,788

Dallas — 32,827

Gresham — 1,746

The 961-vote loss stung, but it didn’t take long for another project to gain momentum: Buy the playground ourselves.

Baker Park, which won the Moda Assist contest, will be the second accessible-for-all playground in Redmond.

The first, Hope Playground in Sam Johnson Park, opened in 2015, and was the culmination of almost four years of fundraising started by a couple of mothers who saw a need for their children and others, said Jenny O’Keefe, the chairwoman of the Redmond Parks Committee.

O’Keefe contacted those rallying support for the vote in Dallas via Facebook, offering an assist for a similar campaign in Dallas.

“I am contacting you and a couple other Dallas citizens since you seem to have a desire to capitalize on your community’s positive energy and continue the momentum to bring an all-access park to Dallas,” O’Keefe wrote. “I know Redmond citizens would be willing to share their methods that made Hope Playground a reality for us if Dallas wants to make it happen in your community, too.”

Samantha Burns shared the post on the Dallas Community Bulletin Board Facebook page, and the idea took off.

Cheryl Cisneros and Jan Ahrendt, administrators on Dallas Community Bulletin Board, said organizing the effort will wait until this summer, unless someone wants to pick up the ball sooner.

“Many of our members are very passionate about making the dream of having an all-abilities playground become a reality,” Ahrendt said. “There are options to consider that involve enhancing some current playgrounds to offer features for all abilities or building a new playground.”

She added that effort needs to involve parents of children with special needs.

“A significant amount of information gathering must be done prior to the implementation of the project,” she said.

Dallas Mayor Brian Dalton said though the outcome wasn’t he wanted, the vote demonstrated the community working together to accomplish a feat where the odds weren’t in Dallas’ favor.

“I believe our high vote totals, which I understand came from not only Dallas, but from throughout the nation (New York, Florida, California, Illinois and Hawaii to name a few), demonstrated our great sense of community and collective spirit for which our town is becoming well-respected,” Dalton wrote to Karis J.A. Stoudamire-Phillips, Moda Health’s corporate social responsibility manager after the voting ended.

Dallas’ drive to win the Moda Assist Program didn’t go unnoticed by Stoudamire-Phillips.

“It was a really close vote, and we sincerely appreciate the unprecedented community support we saw from Dallas, particularly the way residents and neighboring communities rallied together to get behind Roger Jordan Park,” Stoudamire-Phillips said.

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