Ladies and gentlemen, and boys and girls of all ages and abilities, filled the We All Play inclusive playground at Miracle Field at Manthey Park in Owatonna Monday. The grand opening and dedication was the culmination of a five-year, one-million-dollar-plus project to create such a facility to town. Missy Ahrens and Amanda Gislason spearheaded the effort as co-chairs for We All Play.

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Owatonna needs to be especially proud of this facility because everybody gets to play. Play is such an important part of what we get to do. I get to represent play with my position as the Park and Rec Director for the City of Owatonna. And I see it as an absolute privilege to hold that title.

-Jenna Tuma, Director of Owatonna Parks and Rec

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There was a little video that showed up on Facebook yesterday of a little girl coming out here in a wheelchair and a walker, just checking it out. It's made so everybody can have fun.

-Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz

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It has been a long five-plus years to get to this point. But I never had a doubt we would get here. I knew we had an amazing community backing us, a resourceful navigator in Tim Truelson guiding the way, and two moms full of unending passion and love, fueling the fire to keep this thing moving.

-Missy Ahrens, co-chair of We All Play

I have to take a deep breath and look around. Because dreams really do come true. May 2015 seems like a long time ago and it was only the beginning of this amazing project...There are no greater teachers of love and acceptance and that is what I hope this playground and field will mean for everyone, a place of love, acceptance and inclusion.

-Amanda Gislason, co-chair of We All Play

Rich Will/TSM
Roy Koenig/TSM

The first official game on the Miracle Field featured Team Missy versus Team Amanda, and played out to a tie. Benji Hager, wearing his Owatonna Aces uniform, pitched. Members of Owatonna softball and baseball teams assisted the players, as did Owatonna Rotary Club members. The Rotary Club was one of the original civic organizations to back the We All Play initiative.

The ceremonial first pitches were thrown by Gunnar and Amanda Gislason and Miley and Missy Ahrens.

Roy Koenig/TSM

Pieces of equipment at the We All Play park are accessible for all abilities. Part of the fundraising strategy allowed groups to donate for a specific item. A limited amount of funds still need to be raised to complete the full project. Find details at

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Denny Meillier of Owatonna Foundation (pictured above) spoke of the foundation's commitment to the community. Overall, nearly 350 different people and organizations made contributions for We All Play

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