Life-Size Sculpture Honors Local Champion Of Children

A Kid’s Place founder, Dottie Berger MacKinnon, poses with a life-size bronze statue depicting her and a child sitting on a bench, which was unveiled during the final ceremony of the “Celebrate a Legacy” campaign spearheaded by her husband Sandy MacKinnon, commemorating his wife’s passion and life work with abused, abandoned and neglected children.

The living legacy of former Hillsborough County commissioner, child advocate and founder of A Kid’s Place, emergency foster shelter in Valrico, Dottie Berger MacKinnon, 68, was celebrated by family members, friends and supporters last month.

“We are actually celebrating a love story and the fulfillment of a dream,” said event emcee, Cathy Unruh, as she addressed the audience that has been supporting the effort to provide a temporary home for children.

The event was the conclusion of the “Celebrate a Legacy” campaign spearheaded by Sandy MacKinnon, commemorating his wife’s passion and life work with abused, abandoned and neglected children.

The ceremony included a special gift by Sandy as he unveiled a life-size bronze sculpture created by artist, Steven Dickey, honoring Dottie’s tireless efforts on behalf of the young residents.

The statue depicting Dottie reading to a child on a park bench, now sits at the center’s front entrance. A Kid’s Place currently houses about 60 children, cared for by more than 20 employees that run the facility around the clock.

Also in attendance was Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, who drew attention to what A Kid’s Place truly means to the community and the reason why it has become a reality, while mentioning that he gets a smile on his face as he drives by the center and sees the children waiting for the school bus.

“Yes, it is a place, but it is also a dream of a special person who saw the need and did what it took to make it happen,” Gee said. “ She has been an inspiration to all of us. We thank you.”

No one seemed more proud during the event than Sandy, who spoke at length about his decade long marriage to Dottie, and what his wife has been able to accomplish with the help of loyal friends and supporters that have shared her dream over the years.

“Having so many supporting Dottie’s dream speaks volumes of the kind of person she is and whom I have been blessed with having by my side,” Sandy said before listing more than a dozen attributes befitting his wife, such as pretty, passionate, dedicated, unbending, cunning, resolute, determined and loving. 

A special presentation by A Kid’s Place 14-member Pre-K class sang a few songs to Dottie, in her honor.

Dottie’s  relentless effort on behalf of abused or neglected children has raised millions of dollars to first build Joshua House in 1994, a haven in Lutz for children removed from their families, followed by the opening of A Kid’s Place, located at  1715 Lithia Pinecrest Rd., in Brandon in 2009.

Reflecting on the celebration, while keeping her focus on her work in behalf of the children, the support, and her husband’s affection, Dottie’s comments summed up the ceremony well when she said, “It is quite humbling. This was done by my husband so they would never forget me at A Kid’s Place. The love of a man for his wife. I am so blessed.”

For info about A Kid’s Place or to donate, please visit www.kidscharitytb.com or call 843-1833.