Let’s Connect campaign receives $90,000 grant from Wellmark

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The Wellmark Foundation grant of $90,000 is the latest contribution to the $5 million Let's Connect fundraising campaign, begun in November 2016.

Let’s Connect — phase one of the Raccoon River Valley Trail to High Trestle Trail connector project — has landed a $90,000 grant from the Wellmark Foundation, according to a foundation statement released Thursday.

The Dallas County Conservation Foundation, which leads the Let’s Connect fundraising campaign, will receive the Wellmark Foundation matching funds. The Let’s Connect award is one of 12 announced by Wellmark.

“To ensure community support for the grant project, communities were challenged to match this grant amount dollar-for-dollar,” the Wellmark statement said. “Each of the grant recipients submitted projects that can help individuals, families and communities achieve better health through safe and healthy environments that encourage physical activity and access to and consumption of nutritious foods.”

The nine-mile Perry-to-Woodward connector trail project starts in Perry and follows a former railroad right-of-way to the east until it connects to 130th Street. It will connect two major statewide trails: the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle Trail.

About $1.6 million of the project’s estimated $5 million cost has been raised, according to Dallas County Conservation Board Executive Director Mike Wallace. The connector trail project has attracted significant grant funding in recent years, with preliminary engineering and land acquisition soon to lead to phase-one construction.

The Wellmark Foundation awarded more than $1 million in the 2017 MATCH grant program, its fifth year of operation.

“The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award a cumulative total of $1,020,000 to these grant recipients,” said Becky Wampler, Wellmark Foundation executive director. “These organizations are focused on sustainable initiatives that will improve the wellbeing of citizens in the communities they serve for years to come.”

The Let’s Connect fundraising campaign began in November 2016. About $1.6 million of the needed $5 million has been raised so far.

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