Morgan’s Wonderland ‘Free to Soar Gala’ Sept. 19 to honor five outstanding individuals

MorgansWonderland_logoOn Friday, Sept. 19, the annual “Free to Soar Gala” benefitting non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland and Monarch Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland will honor five individuals who have been champions for those with special needs.

“Each year, we salute outstanding individuals who embody character traits such as determination, caring, achievement, sacrifice and inclusion,” said Ron Morander, general manager of the world’s first ultra-accessible theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built to be enjoyed by everyone.  “They will be recognized at the gala, and their names will be added to the Walk of Fame that encircles our park’s eight-acre lake.”

Details about how to nominate individuals for inclusion on the Walk of Fame by the Aug. 1 deadline can be found at   A committee from Morgan’s Wonderland and The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, along with special advisors, review nominations and select the five honorees.

Morander said an honoree might be a student who, regardless of a special need, perseveres at school and inspires other students; a Wounded Warrior who embraces life despite immense physical challenges and serves as a role model for other Warriors; a dedicated employee who has earned the admiration of a supervisor and peers for a job well done; a parent or caregiver who has sacrificed to make a difference for those with special needs; or someone who works directly with the special-needs community to make a difference in numerous lives.

Sponsorship information and other specifics about the Free to Soar Gala are available from Becky Thomas at (210) 493-2811.  Gala proceeds will help expand programs and services for the special-needs community through Morgan’s Wonderland and Monarch Academy.

Completely wheelchair-accessible Morgan’s Wonderland admits anyone with a physical or cognitive challenge to the 25-acre park free of charge.  Monarch Academy, located next door to Morgan’s Wonderland, helps students with special needs achieve their full potential through individualized instruction.  The school’s Bridge Program strives to equip students with valuable skills that lead to productive lives as adults.

The inspiration for Morgan’s Wonderland came from Morgan, daughter of philanthropists Gordon and Maggie Hartman, who will celebrate her 21st birthday during the gala.  Morgan’s soaring spirit despite personal challenges sparked within the Hartmans a deep desire to create a haven not only for those with special needs but also for their families, caregivers and invited friends.  “Inclusion is the overarching objective,” Gordon Hartman noted.  “Everyone can have a good time at Morgan’s Wonderland.”

Morgan’s Wonderland and Monarch Academy are located in Northeast San Antonio a half-mile west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive. For more information about Morgan’s Wonderland or Monarch Academy, call (210) 495-5888 or (210) 479-3311, respectively.  Or visit or