Sorority chapter hoping to install special swing by this summer

After nearly three years of fundraising, local families finally may be able to enjoy a swing that will allow people with all types of physical ability to spend time together at the playground.
The swing is called a “Sway Fun” and it can hold up to a dozen people, including two in wheelchairs.
The Alpha Upsilon chapter of local sorority Beta Sigma Phi has been fundraising for this piece of equipment for years now. Up until this past May, they had managed to raise about half of the $15,000 needed.
A story that ran in the Fort Frances Times on May 11, entitled “A sister’s dream for Nicholas,” helped give a boost to the fundraising drive, including one large donation of $2,000 from an anonymous donor.
The story was about Nicholas Wiedenhoeft, a 10-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. Because Nicholas is both blind and wheelchair-bound, motion is an important stimulus to him, explained his mother, Nikki.
While his younger sister, Callahan, plays on the equipment at Lions Park here, Nicholas sits nearby with his one of his parents at his side. The “Sway Fun” would enable the entire family to play together.
And the Wiedenhoefts aren’t the only ones who would benefit.
“There’s a very big need for this in this town,” said Helena Guertin, president of the Alpha Upsilon chapter. “People have come up and said, ‘What can we do to help?’
“We’ve had a great response.”
In addition to children who are physically challenged, the swing also could benefit seniors and other adults with mobility issues.
The sorority is now about $5,000 short of its goal, but with the community’s support, it still may be able to install the “Sway” Fun sometime this summer, said Guertin.
For the first time, the Alpha Upsilon chapter is holding a raffle to help generate some extra funds. “We have never done a big capital project like this,” Guertin noted.
First prize is a Lamaze infant gift package, donated by Betty’s, second prize is a youth bike, donated by Skates and Blades, third prize is a Step Two folding slide, donated by Canadian Tire, and fourth prize is an outdoor portrait sitting and one 11×14 print, donated by In-Focus Photography.
Tickets are not on sale yet, but will be available by mid-July from sorority members. They cost $2 each, with the draw to be held Sept. 2.
The chapter also has set up coin jars at several local businesses, including 364 Food Store, The Place, Einar’s, Rainy Lake Sports and Tackle, the Harbourage, Couchiching Gas Bar, Heron Landing Gold Club, Gagne Pharmacy, Celeste’s Hair Design, A Little Off the Top, the Fort Frances Clinic Dispensary, and the LCBO.
“If we get the support we’ve been getting, we shouldn’t have any problem getting it going,” Guertin said of the new swing. “It should be a go.”

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