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Donor backs out after promising new adaptive playground for Gateway Academy

Posted at 7:42 PM, Nov 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-04 20:55:14-04

Imagine getting the greatest gift of your life and then suddenly having it ripped away. It's what the Gateway Academy in Phoenix is feeling right now. The K-12 school for high functioning students with autism just had an important gift taken away.

It's an empty field right now but the plan was for Gateway Academy to remove all of the bushes and gravel to make room for a brand new adaptive playground. The cost of entire project would be picked up by a very generous donor.

"We thought we had found an angel who understood the population and who's ready to give generously," said Robin Sweet, the school's executive director. "Not so much."

That donation, $68,000. How much the school has seen of that money? Nothing.

"Before I signed the purchase order I called him again just to make sure," said Sweet.

That donor backed out. Now the school is left with a massive bill, a playground that's sitting in storage on pallets and students who are disappointed.

"Guess what,  don't see anything out here," said Joseph, an eighth grader at Gateway.  "It's not just to have fun. It would really help us," said Joseph.

"It's instrumental in their well-being and mental and physical health and then to say, sorry - just kidding?" said Sweet.

The school won't identify the donor but Sweet does have a message for the man. "Shame on you. It's not about me but it's about the kids. That's terrible."

The school has its hands tied and can't take legal action against the donor. The school is holding a fundraiser on Saturday November 4 from 10 a.m. until noon at the Altitudes Trampoline Park in Phoenix.

A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help the school.