Resort for disabled campers saved

Photo: Wilderness Discovery Resort.

Back when I first wrote about their dilemma two years ago, things looked bleak for Kevin and Lori Johnson, of Madison Lake, Minn., who have cared for Kirk Williams, a disabled veteran, for more than 25 years.

The province of Ontario was going to sell the land on which the Wilderness Discovery Resort for the Disabled rests near Thunder Bay, where they once took Kirk twice a year. It was prepared to do so for market value, which was prohibitive for the resort owner, who cited management costs for letting a lease expire.

The campground is a chance for the disabled to enjoy the outdoors, and the campers worried Ontario saw it as a chance to make some money.

Kirk Williams with Jack Morris at Target Field. Photo: Kevin Johnson.

The Johnsons took on the campaign, starting an online petition. They made a sign, and traveled to wherever someone famous would hold it. Anything to get some attention for their cause.

These sorts of things usually fail.

This one didn’t.

On Friday, the Ontario government and a host of service clubs, reached a deal to transfer the property to a not-for-profit corporation for the next 20 years, the CBC reports.

Today the Thunder Bay groups will sit down with representatives from the province’s infrastructure and community and social services ministries to finalize the deal and figure out how to bring the property back up to standard since it closed in 2015.

The head of a Rotary Club, who spearheaded fundraising efforts, says it’s unlikely it will open in 2017.

With their victory in hand, the Johnsons said in a news release they now want to pursue a similar facility in Minnesota for people with disability challenges.