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Simon Brockmeier

Simon Brockmeier, 8, meets with Maggie Stuckey, Lincoln Parks Foundation, and J.J. Yost, Parks and Recreation Department, in December to discuss fundraising strategies for playground equipment at Bishop Heights Park.

Simon Brockmeier has spent all eight years of his life going to his neighborhood park, Bishop Heights.

But last September, Simon noticed some of the park equipment — a merry-go-round and two spring riders — were gone.

"I said, 'What happened? Why can't I play here anymore?'," he recalled.

Bishop Heights Park, at Prescott Avenue and 30th Street, has been a staple in the Prescott area for years.

Simon noticed fewer people coming to play at the park than before the equipment had been removed. His parents could take him and his brothers to play at other city parks, but he said it just wasn't the same. He called Bishop Heights "our park." 

When Simon's mother, Kathryn, saw how affected he was by the loss, she encouraged him to reach out to local agencies.

"My mom taught me how to fundraise when I was younger," Kathryn Brockmeier said. "And I remember how special that was for me. I wanted him to have that same thing."

So Simon wrote a letter to the city's Parks and Recreation Department in September, requesting new equipment and offering to raise the necessary funds.

Shortly after, he received a phone call from the department, requesting a meeting. 

In December, the engaging 8-year-old met with Maggie Stuckey, the director of the Lincoln Parks Foundation, and J.J. Yost, the planning and construction manager at the Parks and Recreation Department to discuss fundraising options.

The department had already planned on installing one piece of new equipment — which Simon was invited to help select — and it was suggested that with private donations, a four-seat teeter totter could be installed, as well.

After the meeting, Simon applied for and received a $1,900 grant from the Lincoln Parks Foundation. To make up the rest of his $2,900 goal, Simon and his parents made door-to-door efforts, set up an online campaign and put an advertisement in the Prescott Area Neighborhood Association December newsletter.

Last week, Simon gave a presentation at a meeting at Rousseau Elementary School. He revealed that not only did he meet his fundraising goal, but exceeded it with $3,120.05 raised.

Donations came from neighbors and friends, a $500 corporate match and a $350 donation in his name from the Country Club Neighborhood Association — a nearby neighborhood that also uses Bishop Heights Park.

"I was so excited," Simon said. "Now we have something to look up to in the park. I can't wait for warmer weather so we can go there."

Yost said that the teeter-totter will be installed in the next few months. Simon hopes to install bike racks or add more trees with the remaining funds.

"He's been working very hard on this project and I'm very proud of him," Kathryn Brockmeier said. "He has a good business sense and understands goals, but he also has a big heart and is keeping other families in mind. That's what's driving this."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or hmuslic@journalstar.com.

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