A Modesto couple raising money to restore Graceada Park’s wading pool and splash pad is closing in on the $200,000 the projects will cost and needs a little more help in reaching the goal.
Katie and Jake Barber took on the projects to honor their son, Ryan, who was stillborn May 6, and to give back to those who have helped them during their loss. The college-area couple had raised $60,000 when The Bee wrote about their efforts over Thanksgiving. That was more than enough for the wading pool, but not enough for the splash pad, which will require much more work, including removing and replacing its 30-foot-by-30-foot concrete pad.
The Barbers’ fundraising now stands at $95,000, and they have received a pledge of $75,000 from the Beard Land & Investment Co. The pledge is contingent upon the Barbers raising $30,000 more to reach $200,000.
“It’s been an outpouring of love and support, and we are getting really close,” Jake Barber said. Work should start on both projects in mid-February and be completed for the grand opening on Ryan’s one-year anniversary in May. The projects will be dedicated in his name.
The Barbers said donors include the Modesto Irrigation District ($5,000) and Sutter Health and its Memorial Medical Center ($25,000). The Beard family has been involved with Graceada Park since its beginning. Developers T.K. Beard and T.J. Wisecarver donated the 12 acres for the park, named for their wives, Grace and Ada, in 1906.
“We consider it an obligation to the community to keep the park going,” said Nancy Simas, a Beard family member. She appeared with Katie Barber and College Area Neighborhood Alliance steering team member Twainhart Hill before the Beard Land & Investment Co. board to ask for support. (The Barbers are working with CANA and the city on the projects.)
Simas said the Beard family also donated the $50,000 to build the splash pad in 1999. The infrastructure for the pool and splash pad — including pumps and filters — was destroyed in fires in recent years. The Barbers also have taken on a third project: putting in a play structure at nearby Enslen Park. They need to raise money for that project, and work could start in 2019.
How you can help
Go to ryanbarberfund.com to learn more about the Barbers and the projects. The website includes a link to make donations to an account with the Stanislaus Community Foundation. The Barbers said contractors also can donate their services. For instance, the splash pad needs a contractor to remove the existing concrete and another to pour new concrete. Those interested in helping can email firstname.lastname@example.org.