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Lenoard’s Express plays big role in constructing inclusive playground in Ontario County

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  • Staff Report 

“If you build it, they will come.”

These timeless words from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams could be a perfect refrain for the Dream Big campaign, which involved the construction of a playground for people of all abilities to enjoy in Western New York. Mike and Nanci Bentley from the Inclusion in Motion project built this inclusive playground with support from dozens of community partners; and visitors from the Rochester and Finger Lakes region have come – in droves.

“Over the summer, four to six busloads of visitors came to the playground each week, including Cub Scout troops, school districts, church groups, nonprofit organizations and families and friends, all joining to create lasting memories of generations playing together,” said Nanci Bentley. “We have quickly become a popular destination for schools, adult agencies and even other municipalities to visit. Without the community’s support and the backing of donors like Leonard’s Express, this playground would not be where it is today. We couldn’t have done it by ourselves.”

Leonard’s Express – a leading transportation services provider headquartered in Farmington, New York – delivered five truckloads of raw materials and playground equipment more than 1,000 miles, free of charge, from Delano, Minnesota to Canandaigua, New York. The materials were delivered on a weekly schedule during the summer of 2021, culminating with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony in June of 2022. The total value of the Leonard’s Express donation was approximately $31,000.

“It was a perfect opportunity to support one of our communities and demonstrate our values,” said Leonard’s Express Chief Financial Officer Kyle Johnson. “We delivered swing sets, slides, merry go rounds, ‘buddy benches’ – pretty much everything on the playground except the concrete and mulch.”

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

In addition, when another trucking company was unable to keep its commitment to haul the playground’s surfacing from Pennsylvania, Leonard’s Express stepped in and got the materials to the construction site on time. “A different carrier had offered to haul the surfacing but a week before our scheduled delivery, they backed out,” recalled Mike Bentley, who, along with his wife, Nanci, headed fundraising efforts for the playground. “So, I called Kyle Johnson from Leonard’s Express and asked for help. He said, ‘Absolutely!’ We were in a real jam and Leonard’s came through for us without hesitation.”

Inclusion in Motion’s mission is to empower people of all abilities and ages to play, exercise, learn, and socialize together while enriching the community. The playground’s universal design enables a diverse population to participate in play, regardless of their ability. Inclusion in Motion aims to be the first certified universal design playground in the United States.

“Leonard’s Express is proud to participate in transforming Inclusion in Motion’s big dream into a reality,” Johnson explained. “At Leonard’s Express, philanthropic activities are central to our culture and help define us as a company and as a great place to work.”

To see the Dream Big Inclusion in Motion Playground in Canandaigua, please watch this video from the grand opening and watch the October 4th episode of Leading the Way at Leonard’s, a podcast for truck drivers and transportation & logistics professionals.