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Family YMCA Celebrates Playground Opening

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Family and friends of Dee Dee Hartz, business supports, community members, Miller Family members, city dignitaries, and most importantly, neighborhood children, gathered to enthusiastically celebrate the recent opening of an inspiring new playground at the Family YMCA of Fayette County in Vandalia, Illinois. The play area was designed to celebrate the impactful life of longtime YMCA employee Dee Dee Hartz, who passed away in 2012.

Hartz was a passionate community advocate and aspired to provide a playground at the YMCA for all children and families, according to John Ashdown, Executive Director/CEO of the YMCA. Hartz’s daughter, Candace Gates, voiced her mother’s desire for a playground and that set the planning process in motion for her dream to become a reality.

The Dee Dee Hartz Memorial Playground and adjacent Pine Ridge Homes Pavilion project was made possible through synergistic energy of the vast array of community members and volunteers. The playground, designed and manufactured by BCI Burke and installed by Wade Walters with Twin Cities Recreation, has a fitness theme to encourage kids and families to engage in robust play and activity. Other partners for the playground include the Dee Dee Hartz Memorial Fund, YMCA Board of Directors and volunteers, Central Illinois Materials, Inc., Cox Land Surveying, Old Capitol Foundation, School Specialty, True Value Rental and Vandalia Asphalt. The adjacent Pine Ridge Homes Pavilion was made possible by Pine Ridge Homes, Cox Land Surveying and the Vandalia FFA Chapter.

“The playground is a huge hit with the kids and families and is a superb example of many segments of our community working toward a common goal for the children and families of the Vandalia area,” said Ashdown.

BCI Burke’s Reinventing PlayTM business focus showcases continual improvement and premium customer commitment, as well as creating the highest quality playground, park and recreation products, backed by the best warranty in the industry. Since their inception in the early 1920s, Burke has been an avid champion of engaging kids and families in healthy, challenging and safe play. For more information, visit

See more photos at Fayette’s YMCA Facebook page.

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