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Madison's Place supporters tap crowd-funding to cross finish line

This graphic illustrates where the Madison's Place universal playground will be in relation to other features at Bielenberg Sports Center. (Submitted image)

Twelve years ago this Friday Madison Claire Millington was born and just two short years later, she died of complications from spinal muscular atrophy.

The girl with the long, dark eyelashes and huge smile made such a big impact on her family that they decided to honor her by creating a nonprofit organization aimed at making the lives of other children with disabilities better.

The Madison Claire Foundation is launching a crowd funding campaign on Madison’s birthday – Friday, May 16 – with a goal of raising as much money as possible to build an $800,000 all-accessible playground in Woodbury.

The foundation is partnering with the city of Woodbury to build the playground “Madison’s Place” at the newly expanded Bielenberg Sports Center complex.

Dana Millington, Madison’s mother and foundation board president, envisions it as a place where children with disabilities can play with kids without limitations.

“It’ll be a place for kids at a young age not to view differences with each other,” she said, “to create lifelong friendships.”

The crowd funding campaign will go on for two months in hopes of raising the remaining $300,000 to get the playground installed this summer.

Millington said by launching it on Madison’s birthday, she hopes to create awareness and grab people’s attention to donate in her honor and to help get them to the finish line.

“The idea behind a crowd funding campaign is to get as many people as you can to donate even a small amount to make a big impact as a crowd,” she said.

The foundation has been working with a group of community leaders to help with funding efforts to get the playground equipment ordered and ready this year.

If funds aren’t raised in the next few months, the playground will not be ready until next spring.

“I think crowd funding gives the community a chance to line up behind a great project and to help make Madison’s Place a reality,” said Woodbury Council Member Christopher Burns, who’s been working with the group on fundraising efforts. “I hope this effort helps raise the necessary funds.”

The goal is to get a large sum of donors pitching in small amounts of money, which is less intimidating, but adds up in the end, Millington said.

Though it’s been 10 years since Madison passed away, Millington vividly remembers her family struggling to spend time together doing the same activities.

With two other children ages 5 and 3 at the time, the parents felt guilty when they didn’t spend enough time with Madison while taking care of their other kids.

“It really made a lifelong impact on our kids,” she said. “If they would’ve had a place like this to play they would have had those memories.”

The crowd funding page can be accessed at:

“If enough people shared the story and shared the campaign I think it could be very successful,” Millington said. “It’s just getting the community involved to help share the campaign with their friends and family and coworkers. It’s a great way for people to donate just $10.”

The foundation is also holding a golf tournament Monday, June 2, at Southview Country Club in St. Paul with proceeds going to support the playground.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.