Public support for splash pad initiative continues to grow

It seems everyone is getting involved with the effort to build a splash pad in one of Marshalltown’s parks.

Leigh Bauder, one of the organizers for the Splash 4 Life initiative, said the anniversary of the drowning of four children in the Iowa River has rekindled interest in the project.

“People started getting excited again,” she said. “I am blown away how this community has stepped up.”

Bauder and Splash 4 Life’s other organizer Misty Smith began planning a way to provide a safe alternative to swimming in the river after it took the lives of Lee Meh, 9, her brother Sae Reh, 7, and their cousin, Thay Mo, 7, just weeks after 10-year-old Andres Favela drowned in its waters.

After a few grant snags, reaching the organizer’s $100,000 goal has begun to take off more than a year after the four drowning deaths, Bauder said. Many individuals and businesses have come forward, asking how they can help.

Two car washes at the Hy-Vee gas station will be the first of a series of revenue-generating endeavors for Splash 4 Life. Organizers of the car washes will split proceeds evenly between Splash 4 Life and the Marshalltown High School cheerleading fund.

All tips from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Pizza Ranch, 2305 S. Center St., will also go toward Splash 4 Life. Another tip night, put on by JBS, from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 14, will also go toward Splash 4 Life.

Jeanette Perdue, a Blue Care advisor who works out of JBS, said the drowning struck a chord with the Health and Education Committee. The parents of three of the children worked at JBS, she said. JBS will match donations made during the Aug. 14 tip night.

Two online saleswomen are also contributing money to Splash 4 Life.

Katie Vanderley, Tastefully Simple team manager, said she lived in Ames during the drowning deaths. A mother of three, she said she remembers looking at her husband and expressing horror when she heard about the children’s deaths.

Vanderley has agreed to donate 25 percent of the proceeds from her Tastefully Simple sales to Splash 4 Life indefinitely.

“It’s important we keep our kids safe and that someone steps up and does what is necessary to keep our kids safe,” Vanderley said.

Tastefully Simple sells gourmet foods. To purchase items for Splash 4 Life, visit

Another woman, Lisa Michael, a sales person with Thirty-one Gifts, said she is also donating commission money earned from her purse and tote sales to the fund.

Bauder said she is working on getting Splash 4 Life nonprofit status, and Smith is organizing a community garage sale in September. Proceeds from table rentals at the community garage sale will help fund the splash pad’s installation. Bauder said she is more optimistic every day that she and Smith can raise the money.

“It’s going to happen,” she said.

Donations to Splash 4 Life can be made by sending checks made out to “Splash 4 Life” to any Wells Fargo location.