By JASON SINGER
Not even rain clouds could dampen the excitement.
Kalahari Resort unveiled its new Safari Outdoor Adventure Park Saturday, and even though the rain delayed parts of the grand opening until next weekend, Quinn Clarke got to try it out.
Shortly after 11 a.m., the 10-year-old cancer survivor swung across one level of the three-story African-themed ropes course. He received a standing ovation.
The new park features the ropes course, four zip lines which carry visitors 60 feet above the 77,000-square-foot outdoor waterpark and two 32-foot rock-climbing walls.
Asked about the new ropes course, Clarke didn't mince his words.
"That was awesome," he said.
Clarke, a Chagrin Falls native, has twice defeated cancer. At age 2, he overcame rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer.
The chemotherapy and radiation, however, likely led to a triton tumor when he was 8 years old, said Allison, his mother. He overcame that too, but lost his left hip in the process.
Clarke started "Kick it," an organization that organizes kickball games to raise money to fight childhood cancers. So far, it has raised $85,000 in 16 states.
On Saturday, Kalahari offered $10 tickets for the Safari Outdoor Adventure Park, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to "Kick it."
Normally, tickets for the adventure park will cost $19.95 and include the outdoor safari, which features camel rides and other exotic animals.
Travis Nelson, a spokesman for Kalahari, said the park will provide "a dry alternative to the wet side" of Kalahari. The expansion commemorates the fifth anniversary of Kalahari's opening in Sandusky.
"This is just another facet we offer to guests," Nelson said. "As we continue to grow, we want to keep providing new attractions."
He also said Clarke and "Kick It" were the perfect combo to break in the new park.
"As soon as we learned about them, we knew we wanted to have a partnership with them," Nelson said. "What a great kid, a great family and a great cause."
Because of heavy rains the last few weeks, the zip line and rock-climbing walls weren't ready to be unveiled, said Shannon McCarthy, another spokesman for the resort. The park will fully open next weekend, although the ropes course opened Saturday at noon.
McCarthy said Kalahari wasn't yet releasing the cost of the new park.
The rain didn't deter many of the festivities. At one point, the emcee for the event counted down from 10, before employees shot colorful streamers into the air.
Then the Kalahari characters, including two six-foot tall elephants and a lion, danced with kids to the lyrics, "Celebrate good times, Come on!", which blared from large poolside speakers.
"It's like Las Vegas for kids," Allison Clarke said.
Quinn Clarke's best friend, Cole Newbauer, 10, wearing a "Kick It" shirt to support Quinn and his family, summed it up best.
"What could be cooler than an elephant wearing swimming trunks?"