A new playground is a "big deal" for a Libertyville school for more than a few reasons.
Butterfield School Principal Candice Kehoe thought it could take two years for a group of volunteers to raise the money for the playground's construction.
But the fundraising campaign launched at the start of the school year by the Butterfield Family Association far surpassed expectations. By May, the group had collected about $54,000 to replace the school's aging playground with new equipment that's accessible to students in wheelchairs.
It's also a remarkable feat because a new event at the school managed to raise about $16,000 for the project. Students themselves collected pledges for running laps in the "Track-a-Thon" held on campus last April.
"It really got people participating, not to mention the school spirit that was the result of it," Kehoe said.
And that school spirit also was tangible Saturday, when more than two dozen volunteers installed the playground from Team Reil Inc. A ramp will allow kids in wheelchairs to access a deck onto the playground. Harnesses also can safely secure students into a new swing set.
Over the course of the day, moms and dads, teachers and kids -- with no construction experience -- provided the labor.
"There's a huge savings in having a community-build playground," said Mike Cederlund, vice president of sales at Team Reil. "This would have been almost $30,000 extra to have a professional contractor."
But there's also another perk, said Cederlund, who oversaw and inspected construction.
"It's a long, hard day but at the end of it, you have a huge sense of accomplishment and pride in the school."
Butterfield will host a ceremony to unveil the playground on the night before the new school year starts to recognize the students, parents and volunteers who contributed to the project.
Lynda Flayter, president of the Butterfield Family Association, is one of them.
"I know that people have a choice on where they want to give their time and where they want to give their money," she said. "And I can't thank everybody enough for actually making the choice to commit not only their money, but all of their time and effort throughout the school year to make this happen."