Call her a catalyst, a spark, an inspiration. Morgan Hartman doesn’t realize it, but her ability to smile through physical and cognitive challenges spurred her parents – Gordon and Maggie Hartman – to do things never before accomplished for individuals with special needs and their families. Morgan not only inspired the creation of a one-of-a-kind theme park but also a unique school and other initiatives that benefit the special-needs community.

The tipping point occurred in 2005 when Gordon observed Morgan wanting to play with other vacationing kids at a hotel swimming pool, but the kids were leery of Morgan and didn’t want to interact with her. Then and there, Gordon resolved to create opportunities and places where those with and without disabilities can come together not only for fun but also for a better understanding of one another. That led to the construction of Morgan’s Wonderland in an abandoned quarry in Northeast San Antonio.

When it celebrated its grand opening April 10, 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland became the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment. The completely wheelchair-accessible park features more than 25 elements including rides, playgrounds and other colorful attractions. From the very beginning, anyone with a special need has been admitted free of charge, no questions asked.

For all these reasons and more, I’m ranking Morgan’s Wonderland No. 37 in my 300 Reasons to Love San Antonio list.

It is Morgan’s fervent hope that everyone with a special need – young and older, healthy or ailing, introspective or outgoing – will be touched in a very special way by Morgan’s Wonderland: a shrine of inclusion, an oasis of friendship, an unforgettable wonderland – a must-visit spot for anyone visiting or living in San Antonio.