Friday, November 15, 2013

Black Oak Casino Grab for Cash

I am very excited to share that we were able to snatch up $1700 last night at the Black Oak Casino's annual Community Grab for Cash. It was a fun event and there were quite a few different organizations who were able to walk away with great donations, all right around the same amount as we got.
I must say, it is much harder than it looks. It looks so easy, just grab the money and stuff it in your shirt. Well, it's moving really fast and you only get 30 seconds. And it's the fastest 30 seconds of your life. I stood there swatting at money for a good ten seconds before I realized my tactic wasn't working and opted for something else, which worked well.
Thank you again to Black Oak Casino for such a wonderful night and such generosity.

Remember, we have a new website. Go check it out.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Grab for Cash!!

I am thrilled to announce that we were selected to do the Black Oak Casino Grab for Cash. It is Thursday the 14th at 5pm at the Casino. I would love for you to come down and cheer us on. 
Remember the event is one the gaming floor so it is for adults only. 
I hope to see you there. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our Next Meeting

Our next community/planning meeting will be Monday, October 21st at 6pm in the kitchen of the Tuolumne Memorial Hall. I hope to see you there. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Community Meeting

We will be hosting a meeting next week to discuss upcoming fundraising, public outreach, and more. If you are interested in attending, please visit this link and let us know what day works best for you. Meeting Request

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Website and Fundraising Success

Our dinner in white was a great success.  Thank you to everyone who helped make it a magical and beautiful night.  We raised nearly $10,000.
If you would like to make a donation please visit our new website at and click on the donate link.


Saturday, September 28, 2013


The location for our Starry Night Dinner in White is......
The Mother Lode Fair Grounds Livestock Barn, as you've never seen it before!
Please enter the main gate and follow the signs to the very far end of the fair grounds.
Please remember a few things:
No outside alcohol is allowed.
Please bring your own dinner, table setting, cups, napkins, and decorations.
And Wear White!
And if you haven't already, check out our new website at

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


On July 2, 2013, I went before the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors to ask that they allow us to give a local playground a major face lift and we were unanimously approved.

Our first playground will be built in Tuolumne, California next to the Memorial Hall.  There is a playground there now, but we are going to remove it and replace it with our Accessible playground.

This is a major step in the right direction and I want to sincerely thank the Board of Supervisors for their support and enthusiasm. 

Our next steps will be to begin fundraising and choose a design.
Please take a moment to visit our survey and help us decide what this playground needs.
Playground Survey  We want to be sure that this playground includes the elements that your family wants.  Please share it with your friends and family so that they may assist us in building their Dream Playground.

To read about us and how it all got started visit How it all got started....

Friday, June 28, 2013


To Our

Starry Night - Dinner in White

Saturday, September 28, 2013

6:00 p.m.

Location of the Event is Top Secret
It will be in Tuolumne County and will be announced on the day of the event.
Start Guessing....

$25 per couple  - Adults only

What to bring:
Picnic Dinner, Your Non-Alcoholic Beverage of Choice, All Dishes & Glasses
White Napkins, Elegant table decorations for 32”x 32” space,
Candles/Lanterns  (no open flames)

What to wear:
White Dressy Attire Requested

Tables, Chairs and White Tablecloths

A limited number of tickets will be available at a local business. If you would like to attend, please contact us and we put you in touch with a committee member who has tickets for sale.

If you have an item or items you would like to donate for our silent auction or raffles please contact us at

This is a fundraiser for the Big Dreams Universally Accessible Parks & Playgrounds organization.  Dancing and Drawings will be held after dinner. Proceeds from this event will be used towards the building of accessible playgrounds in Tuolumne County. 
*Donations are Tax Deductible*

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How it all got started....

Big Dreams Universally Accessible Parks and Playgrounds is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was created to build parks and playgrounds in our community that serve people of all ages and abilities.  These parks will specifically address the needs of children and adults who are unable to use traditional play equipment due to a variety of physical and developmental disabilities.
Have you ever wondered how a child who is in a wheel chair, who is blind, who is autistic, or who has a physically disabled parent can play outside?  Traditional playgrounds and parks pose very real challenges to children and adults who have these challenges.  For example, a child in a wheel chair or who uses a walker can not even access the play structure at many parks because the surface around the structure is either bark or sand.  Neither of these types of surfaces are condusive to rolling on.  So, unfortunatley these children either sit on the sidelines and watch or their parents choose to stay home rather than subject their child to another day of feeling left out and "different". 

In 2009 I was blessed by the birth of my daughter Ruby June.  She was our lucky baby weighing 7 pounds 7.7 ounces.  We all took it as a sign that she was our good luck charm.  Soon after Ruby was born we noticed she was not using both hands equally and her right hand was always in a fist.  Many months of doctors appointments and testing revealed that Ruby had suffered a stroke in-utero.  Because of the stroke she has Cerebral Palsy, which is the term used for any type damage to the brain.  She has limited use of her right leg and very limited use of her right hand/arm.

These past few years with Ruby have been both challenging and indescribably magical.  I have learned more about life in the past four years than I ever learned in the 28 before she was born.  I have learned that life is beautiful.  It is not fair.  It is not easy.  Most of all, I have learned compassion for other parents that I otherwise would never have understood because I had no way to understand them before walking in their shoes. 

Having a child with special needs really made me feel like an outsider because my child was not able to do the same types of things other children could do or even go the same places they could go.  I was venting about this one day, after keeping quiet about it for a long time and a friend of mine told me that she felt the same way.  Like me, she had constantly avoided the park or most other outdoor locations because they were not accessible to her child.  Nor were they not safe or fun.  Most typical playgrounds do not have any elements that are accessible to a child with any motor developmental challenges.  In Ruby's case, she could not walk around on the bark or in sand.  She also could not climb ladders or sit in a traditional swing because she only has the use of her left hand and those elements require the use of two hands.  Friends would invite me to meet at the park and I would make up some excuse why I couldn't go but the true reason was that it really depressed me.  I hated seeing my child excluded.  I really felt isolated and sad that my child was missing out on such a fundamental part of being a child and also that I was missing out on the chance to see my friends and meet other parents. When Ruby got older and her younger brother, Oliver, was at the age where he wanted to play, I still couldn't take them because although Ruby was walking, she couldn't safely play in the playground without help and so, again, I stayed home.  Depressing right?  Well many other siblings, like Oliver, miss out on the opportunity to play with their brother/sister because the park is not accessible or not safe for them.

I was really sad, angry, and frustrated and decided I was going to do something about it.  I began researching parks and trying to see if there was anywhere we could go where Ruby could be free to play without my help.  I came across an organization called "Shane's Inspiration".  This is a HUGE non-profit organization that is building playgrounds all over the country that are accessible to children of all abilities.  I was thrilled!!  It was right then that I knew I had to build one here so that no other parents had to feel how I felt for so long.  During my research I have learned so much about what the "typical" playgound is lacking and who was not being served.  WOW... I really had no idea the true extent in which our parks were unintentionally excluding a huge number of children and their families.  I also learned the importance of building a park that is challenging and fun for all children.  It is not just a "handicapped" park.  It is a park for all children.  There must be elements that are fun for both the child with special needs and their able-bodied family and friends.

Have you ever wondered what a parent who is in a wheel chair does when they want to take their child to the park?  Can you imagine having to send your small child out into a park and not be able to help them or be at the bottom of the slide to catch them because you can't get through the sand or bark?  Honestly, I hadn't thought about it either.  But now it seems it's all I think about.  I hate that there is even one sunny day where a child or their parent is stuck inside because there is nowhere safe to play. 

I did not want any other parents to be trapped indoors simply because there were no places to go.  That is why I am working so hard to bring our community together to build our first Universally Accessible Playground.  Families need a place where they can come together and let their children play.  They need to have an outdoor space where their child can play with other children and have no limitations to their play.  These playgrounds are not only for children with physical challenges but also for children with any and all special needs, as well as their able-bodied family members and peers.
This is a tremendous undertaking.  It has turned out to be much more work than I was thinking it would be but, I have made some fantastic allies as well as some great community partnerships.  

If this is new information to you, I just ask that you think about it.  Take a look at your local playground through the eyes of a parent or child with a disability and think if it is somewhere they could play.  You will begin to see that it is not.  Very soon our non-profit will be doing a large public outreach campaign to share what we have learned about the need in our community and also we will be doing some large scale fundraising.  These parks are not cheap, which is a big reason they are not built very often.  We will need to raise somewhere in the range of $450,000 to build our first park.  That number may seem totally out of reach but there are many ways to raise the money including government and private grants and community fundraising.  Also, we can get donations of supplies such as concrete, gravel, physical labor, etc.  All of these things will help lower our costs but each are vital to making this project come to life.

If you would like to follow along with this park project or if you'd like to get involved check out or join our facebook group at
To learn more about Ruby June, the inspirational little lady behind this project, you can visit our blog at

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Find a Park

Is it build day yet?

Recently my sister mentioned to me that there she had spoken to a few people who were very interested in visiting an inclusive park but didn't know where to find one.  Well, I have found a great website that has a list of a few here in California.  So, you know who you are... This is for you.  California Inclusive Playgrounds You can also visit where they have listed many different parks they have built all over the country, especially in Southern California.  If you do get a chance to visit one of these parks I would love feedback about what you liked, what you didn't like, and how it was different from parks you have visited in the past.  Email:

Also, our next community meeting will be held on President's Day, Monday, February 18th at 9:30am at the Tuolumne Memorial Hall.  I hope to see you there.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Are you ready?

I am very pleased to announce that our application for non-profit status has been accepted.  We are now officially a non-profit organization and I couldn't be more excited.
I am also pleased to announce our new treasurer Heather Karney.  Welcome Heather!  We are all thrilled to have you on board.
I now have a list of steps to take in order to get the ball rolling, including meeting with Tuolumne County officials to discuss potential property for the project.  We did recieve a letter of support from the Tuolumne Parks and Recreation Department stating that they support the plan of building the park in the town of Tuolumne but nothing is set in stone until we get approval from the Board of Supervisors.
I will need to finalize our business plan, which includes all the details of who we are, what we are doing, why we are doing it, how we are going to do it, who is going to help, how much it will cost, and when we expect to have all of this completed.  No small task, but not impossible.  It has been made much easier with the quotes and designs we recieved from a playground company.  It gives us a good idea as to what can be accomplished in our desired play space and what the cost will be.  I have already made a couple changes to the design, but in general, I think we are pretty close.
Please stay tuned.  We will be starting our public outreach campaign and our fundraising very soon.  Please let me know if you are interested in becoming involved.  We will have our next meeting sometime next month to begin putting the Big Dreams wheels in motion.