WAUSAU — A playground for special needs children and their friends on Wausau’s west side has received an anonymous challenge match grant up to $250,000.

This donation comes as JoJo’s Jungle’s fundraising team closes in on its final $1 million fundraising effort, according to the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, which will administer the challenge grant fund.

New donations received from individuals, families, businesses and service clubs by Dec. 31, 2018, up to $250,000, will be matched dollar-for-dollar by this anonymous source, according to a Community Foundation news release.

JoJo’s Jungle is designed to be a 1.5 acre all-inclusive playground at Brockmeyer Park on Stettin Drive. The park will be dedicated to Josiah “JoJo” Hoerter, who passed away more than two years ago from complications of a rare genetic condition. 

“We’re so excited to see the community come together to support JoJo’sJungle,” said Patrick Hoerter, father of Josiah, in a Community Foundation news release. “We didn’t realize how much a park like this was needed until we had a special needs child ourselves. This park will allow all children, from age 6 months to 12 years, to play alongside their siblings and friends. It will be a blessing to so many.”

The Community Foundation plays a unique role in the community by matching donor wishes with community need.

Jean Tehan, CEO of the Foundation, said, “The anonymous fund donors were excited to hear about this playground project and eager to provide this challenge match. It is their hope that this challenge will help spur the interest of the community to raise the necessary funds to build the park. It has been a dream of the Hoerter family for some time.”

The total cost of the project is $2.4 million. 

To contribute 

You can contribute to the JoJo’s Jungle Fund directly through the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, at www.cfoncw.org or through JoJo’s Jungle GoFundMe site on Facebook and Twitter. Opportunities to purchase pavers and benches, as well sponsorship of some of the playground equipment are also available at www.jojosjungle.org.