In 2019, Valero announced a $15 million donation over six years, its largest-ever single charitable commitment, to help build Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, which will be a 102-acre, year-round, summer-camp-type experience in San Antonio geared for guests with special needs and those of all abilities.
The camp will be operated by the nonprofit foundation of philanthropist and former businessman Gordon Hartman, who in 2010 built Morgan’s Wonderland theme park, the world’s first theme park for special needs individuals and guests, and later Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park – the latter named to Time magazine’s World’s Greatest Places list.
Hartman’s daughter, Morgan, is the inspiration for the parks and the new camp. After observing how other children were hesitant to play with his daughter because of her physical and cognitive challenges, Hartman and his foundation set out to create places where those with and without disabilities could have fun and gain a better understanding of one another.
Valero becomes a founding partner of the new overall $28 million camp, building on its long-time support of Morgan’s Wonderland.
“We decided to get involved because the mission of the camp is undeniably compelling,” said Joe Gorder, Valero Chairman and CEO. “The camp allows those with disabilities to enjoy the same activities as others in an environment free of limitations and restrictions, and to share this experience with those without disabilities. It will be another unique and world-class attraction that is not just for some but everyone.”
The camp is projected for completion in the latter half of 2020, and accommodate up to 525 campers and staff at one time for day, weekend or weeklong camp sessions.
With special emphasis on giving people with physical and cognitive challenges an opportunity to enjoy summer-camp-type activities alongside guests without special needs, Morgan’s Wonderland Camp will include swimming, floating on a relaxing river, hiking, archery, horseback riding, zip lining and much more.
Of the new camp, Hartman said, “If you must rely on a wheelchair for mobility, just imagine the thrill of being able to zip line through the rugged and scenic Hill Country just north of San Antonio.”