By Jamie Hale
When Jonny Fisher saw Brooklyn’s Playground rise to 11th place in Pepsi’s Refresh contest, he was on the edge of his seat. “I don’t think there was a moment in the month of July where we weren’t worried,” he said. But after a surge of votes brought the project to third place a few days ago, he knew they had won it.
The top ten projects in the Pepsi contest, ranked by online votes, get funded. In Fisher’s case he will get $50,000 to fund Brooklyn’s Playground, a proposed playground for disabled and able-bodied kids alike.
Fisher and his wife, Melissa, were inspired to start the project after their five-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, was born with spina bifida. The playground will include adaptive swings, a climbing rock, a musical stage and other equipment so kids like Brooklyn can have an opportunity to play like every other child.
They didn’t win the money without a little help, of course. Fisher said it was truly a community effort that brought in enough votes to shoot them from the bottom of the pack to the top. “The community was so excited about this, they got behind us and they started, you know, just backing it and throwing Facebook links up there,” he said. “It’s cool to see the community get behind you on stuff like that, and we couldn’t do it without the community, without their support.”
It wasn’t all Facebook; ON Semiconductor and Simplot also helped bring in votes–by the pallet. Fisher said the companies bought pallets of Pepsi for their employees, then used the “power votes” that came on the caps to vote online for the project. With their help, Brooklyn’s Playground rocketed past the competition up to third place, securing their spot as a finalist.
Fisher said all that stands in the way is Pepsi’s verification process, a three-week procedure that essentially makes sure Fisher and the project are legitimate. After the three weeks, they can officially add the money to the quickly growing pot.
Although the playground comes at a hefty price, at just over $400,000, the Fishers will have raised over $365,000 once the Pepsi money comes in. They fully expect to have the rest by their build date, September 19. It’s an impressive feat, especially since they only started at the beginning of the year.
Driving them has been the dream of seeing able-bodied kids play with those with disabilities, like Brooklyn and her two-year-old sister Leah. “Kids with autism, kids with down syndrome, able-bodied kids, everyone is going to benefit from this,” said Fisher. “Parents with disabilities, grandparents, it’s really far-reaching, and we see that need every day.”
Go to their website to see how you can help out with Brooklyn’s Playground.