Mankato nonprofit getting Ringsted gym floor

RINGSTED – As the Ringsted school is converted into a storage site, one piece of the building is being claimed by a non-profit organization.

LEEP, out of Mankato, hopes to make the hardwood maple gym floor part of its new facility. LEEP – Leisure and Education for Exceptional People – provides recreation and competitive sporting opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities.

“We have a need for recreational capacity, and our organization has the largest Special Olympics delegation in Minnesota,” said LEEP program and volunteer coordinator Cate DeBates. “We are fighting for gym space all the time. Our athletes lack a place to practice because there is limited gym space.”

The group is working on obtaining its own facility, and the hardwood floor is a good start.

“We learned about [the flooring] through our executive director, who is from the area,” DeBates said. “She grew up there, and played sports on that floor as she was growing up. So she’s very excited about this. It means a lot to her.”

On April 4, members and volunteers from LEEP will remove the floor board by board. They are still looking for help.

“We have a project foreman, but we need tools and volunteers with construction knowledge,” DeBates said.

“LEEP cannot pay to have the floor professionally taken apart or moved, so we are in need of many volunteers to help out,” said the organization’s executive director, Mandy Hunecke. “It was a very generous donation, and we are lucky to have this opportunity. However, it will take a lot of hands to get the floor back to Mankato.”

“People can just show up to help,” DeBates said. “We hope to be down there by 8 a.m. and work until sundown.”

Once the flooring is removed, it will be stored in Mankato until the LEEP facility is built.

“This will be about $80,000 to $100,000 saved,” DeBates said. “We have nearly 300 Special Olympic athletes whom we currently rent gym space for all over town, but there are not always spaces available. They need a consistent and accessible facility.”

More information about LEEP and the Ringsted gym floor project is available at www.mankatoleep.org/gym-floor-project