Avera St. Luke’s commemorates 120th birthday with donation to city of Aberdeen

ABERDEEN, S.D.(Press Release) – To honor its 120th birthday, Avera will be making a donation to the City of Aberdeen’s Park Board.

The funds will be used to create an all-inclusive, handicap accessible playground within Storybook Land.

The city and park board have been working toward the implementation of an all-inclusive playground for more than a year. Avera’s donation had perfect timing, said Mark Hoven, Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Director.

“We’ve had a lot of requests from families to sponsor individual pieces throughout the park, but we’ve always felt that if we’re going to do something, we’re going to do something big, that everyone can use,” he said.

The city applied for grant from the National Parks Service in 2020, and have been hoping for additional donations since.

“Avera has a long history of collaborating with the communities we call home. This project really speaks to our mission and heritage by creating a space that is inclusive and welcoming,” said Todd Forkel, Avera St. Luke’s Regional President and CEO.

Avera St. Luke’s will celebrate its 120th Birthday on October 18. The Presentation Sisters opened St. Luke’s Hospital when the diphtheria epidemic struck Aberdeen in 1901.

“In the 12 decades since, Avera has always felt extremely blessed to continue to honor the Sisters’ Mission in such a supportive community. Our birthday seemed like a great time to give a gift that would last for many years,” said Todd Forkel, Avera St. Luke’s Regional President and CEO.

In addition to the gift from Avera, the National Parks Services approved a $150,000 grant which will also fund the project.

The city will be accepting bids for the project soon. The timeline of the project will depend on those bids, availability of materials and weather. Avera and the City of Aberdeen hope to break ground after Labor Day to see the playground in use in late Spring 2022.