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Realtors donate to playground in memory of Ashley Okland

There to present the award were (from left): Scott Wendl, 2014 president of the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors®; Sheri McMichael, executive director of Variety-The Children’s Charity; Susan Hatten with Variety-The Children’s Charity; Mike Knapp, CEO of Iowa Realty; Brenna Finnerty with Variety; Jon Yocum, president-elect of IAR; Kathy Miller, 2014 president of IAR; Ken Clark, treasurer of IAR and Don Marple, past-president of IAR. Submitted photo
There to present the award were (from left): Scott Wendl, 2014 president of the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors®; Sheri McMichael, executive director of Variety-The Children’s Charity; Susan Hatten with Variety-The Children’s Charity; Mike Knapp, CEO of Iowa Realty; Brenna Finnerty with Variety; Jon Yocum, president-elect of IAR; Kathy Miller, 2014 president of IAR; Ken Clark, treasurer of IAR and Don Marple, past-president of IAR. Submitted photo

A sizable donation was recently awarded to a project that will build a playground in memory of a Ballard graduate who lost her life while working as a realtor in West Des Moines.

The Iowa Association of Realtors presented a $100,000 check to The Ashley Okland Star Playground project Jan. 29. The playground will be located in Ewing Park on the southeast side of Des Moines. It will be an all-inclusive playground, suitable for children of all ages and physical abilities, a representation of Okland’s personality. The adapted playground equipment, catering to children with disabilities, will make the park the first of its kind in Iowa.

“Ashley had an amazing gift for making people feel special, welcomed and included,” said Jen Stanbrough, a colleague and friend of Okland’s. “This is representative of the way Ashley lived, including and welcoming others, and most importantly, making sure everyone was having fun. The playground is an awesome way to keep her positive attitude alive and with us all.”

The project was started by Variety - The Children’s Charity, an organization Okland was involved in as a volunteer and past board member. Realtors from across the state contributed to the $100,000 donation, bringing the total amount of funds raised for the playground to $340,000. The total projected cost of the project is $500,000.

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