JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Each morning, families walk their dogs and enjoy the trail around Lake Wonderwood.
The path and playgrounds along the trail for families at Naval Station Mayport weren’t there five years ago.
“They’re out defending our country every day. They should have a place to recreate with their children; that’s one of our biggest objectives,” Mike Ellis said.
The Lake Wonderwood Trail was Mike Ellis’ wife’s vision. Once surrounded by brush, she wanted to turn the lake into a peaceful place for families on the base to spend time together.
She worked tirelessly in creating the nonprofit True Blue and finding donors for the trail. Five years into the project, she passed away from cancer.
“It was just a shock. She went from within 10 days being fine to passing away,” Ellis said. “She was my soulmate and I know how important it was for her to get this done.”
More than $400,000 donated by families and local organizations during the past six years has gone toward new playgrounds, pavilions and paving a trail halfway around the lake.
"She was amazing, and this is here because she had this vision of what she wanted to do," Ellis said.
With a third of the project left, they still need at least another $100,000.
A floating fishing dock is in the works and they’re seeing how much a pier would cost. Ellis' goal is to finish his wife's vision in 2020.
“It’s unfortunate she won’t be able to see it finished, but I’m sure she’ll be here in spirit,” Ellis said.
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