Jake’s Field of Dreams – a play space for all
Every day, families gather, and children play at Jake’s Field of Dreams in Wentzville, Missouri, less than an hour from St. Louis. This sports-themed, inclusive playground engages children of all ages and abilities in physical, social, and pretend play.
The vision for this unique play space began with one man, Jim Vollmer, a father who lost his son, Jake, to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. One day, Jim sat in his office and sketched design ideas for a new playground that would highlight his son’s love of sports and be an inspiration for all.
How does a rough sketch and a dream become a fantastic playground that is beloved in the community? It takes the right partner, an enthusiastic community, and a whole lot of dedicated and rewarding work!
Jim Vollmer brought his vision to Natalie McKay, the founder and executive director of Unlimited Play, an award-winning, non-profit organization that partners with Little Tikes Commercial to design and build universally accessible playgrounds. Natalie was immediately enthused with Jim’s vision, and together they met with Wentzville’s Parks and Recreation Director. That one meeting eventually led to another with the Parks and Recreation Board, the Mayor, and the Board of Alderman. Nine months later, the City dedicated land for the playground and provided the lead gift ($500,000).
Jim and Natalie were thrilled at the commitment the City was making to help bring Jake’s Field of Dreams to fruition. A lot of work remained to raise the remaining funds needed ($600,000). Together, they spoke at Rotary events and many other clubs and organizations. Each speech led to a next step, an invitation to speak somewhere else, a donation from that organization, a person coming up to ask how their business could help. They displayed a booth at local festivals where people could see the design and donate. Small children got so excited they threw their coins right in! For Jim, those donations were as meaningful as the large grants from local foundations.
It was an amazing experience! In this video, experience Jim and Natalie’s passion for Jake’s Field of Dreams firsthand.
As the awareness grew, so did the community excitement and donations. By building awareness and community spirit, Jim and Natalie reached the people whose passion is children, play, inclusion, and community. With the funds secured, they started the next phase – building the play space. The playground was constructed via a community-build event and with the help of the local Little Tikes Commercial representative, All Inclusive Rec.
On June 23rd, 2018, almost exactly two years and four months since Jim first dreamed of a play space honoring his son, Jake’s Field of Dreams opened to the community.
Jake’s Field of Dreams play space features:
- Custom baseball stadium play structure with a ticket booth, concession stand, slides, climbers, Together Glider and Accessible Ramps
- Freestanding inclusive play equipment, such as the Roller Slide and Surface Spinner, which is a merry-go-round that a wheelchair could wheel right into
- Custom Zip Lines with Inclusive Seats and surfacing that emulate a football field
- Unitary Surfacing is used throughout the play space for people of all abilities to access all play equipment
Jim’s experience designing, fundraising, and building Jake’s Field of Dreams has forever changed his life. Since the grand opening, Jim left his previous job and joined Natalie at Unlimited Play. He now spends all his days working with communities and individuals like him, to bring their vision of inclusive playgrounds to reality.
Learn more about Unlimited Play.
Learn more about how you can raise funds for your next playground with Little Tikes Commercial’s funding program.
Visit Jake’s Field of Dreams in Heartland Park 100 William Dierberg Dr., Wentzville, MO 63385