Children play on the playground equipment build and dedicated to Maci Mulvey.

Inclusive play: new accessible playground in Knoxville honors Maci Mulvey

James Knox Park in Knoxville has long been a place where families gather and memories are made. Now, with the recent installation of state-of-the-art, accessible playground equipment, the park is not just a place for some, but a haven for all.

This transformative addition, dedicated in memory of Maci Mulvey, represents a significant stride towards inclusivity, ensuring that every child can experience the joy of play.

Maci Mulvey was born with half a heart. At the age of three she had a cardiac arrest that resulted in her becoming wheelchair bound, nonverbal, and blind. But this didn’t stop Maci. Her parents, Dennis and Michelle Mulvey, took Maci everywhere—from the pontoon boat to sporting events. Maci graduated from Knoxville High School in 2018. She passed at the age of 19.

Throughout Maci’s life, the Mulveys witnessed firsthand how often individuals with differing abilities are overlooked when it comes to accommodations, which is why they made it their mission to raise the money needed to build an accessible playground in Maci’s hometown.

Funding for the $87,0000 project was a collaborative effort, supported by current and former residents, service organizations, and the City of Knoxville.

The Knoxville Community Fund provided a grant to help fund the installation of the equipment at the park. “Our goal in funding this project was to create an inclusive and welcoming space where all children, regardless of their abilities, can play and thrive,” said Mandy Balser, Knoxville Community Fund Advisory Board Member.

The Knoxville Community Fund is a fund of Galesburg Community Foundation. It is guided by a local advisory board that is empowered to award grants that positively impact the Knoxville community. Because it is an endowed fund, the Knoxville Community Fund will grow forever, creating a permanent source of financial support for local needs.

The new additions to the playground include ramps, sensory-rich elements, and adaptive slides and monkey bars as well as more traditional slides and climbing features. Even the installation was a community effort, with volunteers coming together to assemble the colorful structure just west of the park’s pavilion. “Children were there when we installed the equipment, and they couldn’t wait to play on it,” said Toby Meyers, Mayor of Knoxville, Knoxville Community Fund Board Member, and Maci’s uncle.

The impact of this initiative extends beyond the boundaries of Knoxville and offers families from around the area a safe, accessible, and inclusive option for play. In addition to playground equipment, James Knox Park offers pickleball and basketball courts, a fishing pond with a fountain, a pavilion with picnic tables, and restroom facilities.

For more information about the Knoxville Community Fund, contact Galesburg Community Foundation at 309.344.8898 or

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Haley Sloss

Charitable Giving Coordinator

Short Bio

Haley provides support to enhance the function and success of the Charitable Giving and Affiliate Teams. She ensures donors receive a personal approach to philanthropy through outstanding customer service by supporting charitable giving for donors and fund holders across the state.