Lyndee Fogelman wanted to give her children, and all the children of Piedmont, a fun, safe place to play.

Her girls, ages 11 and 9, had been playing on equipment at Piedmont Park their entire lives. Not updated since what she estimates to be the 1970s, the park's luster had long ago faded.

So Fogleman joined the Piedmont Park Board with the intent of improving the park. In the fall of 2014, with the board's approval, she, her husband and the community set out on a fundraising mission and the city offered to match some of the funds raised. Fogelman was committed to the three years she estimated it would take to raise enough money to bring equipment up to code and to replace the older equipment. But the community surprised her, and by spring of this year, they had raised – with the city's partial match – more than $24,000.

Thrilled, Fogelman helped organize a Day of Caring in May and the community headed out to its neighborhood park to clean up and install new equipment, including a zip cruise — basically a playground-sized zip line attached to the ground — and a fire engine rider, update current equipment and landscape the park. Numerous local contractors donated their time, services and goods.

Unfortunately, shortly after the new equipment was installed, a June hailstorm rolled through the area, damaging the newly-updated park. But the people of Piedmont rolled up their sleeves and cleaned up the park, restoring it to its earlier shine.

"I was a very small part of it," Fogelman said. "It really was a community effort, both with donations, volunteering people's time, labor and all that."

The park improvements have created an oasis for local children, according to Diane Evans, finance officer for the city of Piedmont.

"We're a small community and the kids don't have a lot to do here," Evans said. "But on a daily basis now, with this new equipment, there are kids there playing in that park."

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Helping restore that sense of community pride is what drove Fogelman to work on the project. 

"We have a lot of pride in that park now," Fogelman said, adding that as she drives by the park each day, a smile spreads across her face as she views the children enjoying their youth in a park furnished and kept up by her community.

Of note from readers

The Southern Hills Realtors for Kids is gearing up to help the children in need in the Hill City, Custer, Hot Springs, Hermosa, Edgemont, Fairburn, Buffalo Gap, Ardmore, Keystone, Oelrichs, Pringle and Smithwick areas by raising money to assist those who have needs unmet by other family or community resources.

Funds go to a variety of needs local children have, from medical needs or soccer shoes to food or back-to-school clothes.

The Kids First Annual Benefit Auction will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 9, at Laughing Water Restaurant at Crazy Horse. For more information, call Brandy Purcell at 605-722-0181. Tickets are $20 at the door, or a table for $200 that includes two bottles of wine. 

— Mount Rushmore Association of Realtors

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