October 04, 2010 12:00 PM

Thirteen years ago doctors told Gordon and Maggie Hartman that their only child, Morgan, had severe cognitive delays, and in that split second all their dreams for their daughter changed. Says Gordon, 47: “We found that Morgan is perfect in a different way.” And with the spring opening of Morgan’s Wonderland (morganswonderland.com), a 25-acre amusement park in San Antonio designed for kids and adults with special needs, the Hartmans are realizing a dream for hundreds of others. Free for visitors with special needs, the park features wheelchair-accessible rides including a carousel and off-road jeep and such sensory-stimulating activities as an interactive music garden. Gordon, a retired developer, wrangled over $26 million from investors and donors, put in $1.5 million of his own and is fund-raising for the rest of the $33 million park. The investment is already paying off: Morgan, now 16, thinks it’s “cool” to have her name on the sign, says Maggie, 50, and loves riding the train with her friends. Miguel Castro, 15, who has spina bifida and requires a wheelchair, can’t get enough of the swing-something he hadn’t been able to do since he was 3: “This,” he says, “is freedom.”

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