Credit: Photo: Bill Lutzens, Foothills Park & Recreation District
Above: A Denver Miracle League player steps up to the plate as his mother and team-mates cheer him on. Photo: Carol Carder. Below: Crews put down rubberized “turf” over the asphalt base on an adaptive field in Littleton, Colo.
In Georgia, the Alpharetta Park & Recreation District donated land in the middle of its sports complex. The first donation to the Alpharetta program was $200 from the Gant Feed and Seed Store. Early supporters that McLaughlin and other volunteers worked to establish credibility with included the Bank of North Georgia and Georgia Power. While the original Miracle League concept was serving children ages 4 to 14 in baseball only, Alpharetta's No Limits organization welcomes players ages 4 to 78 and plans to include other sports, such as wheelchair soccer and basketball.Volunteer Opportunities
In Colorado, “Our main concern is attracting volunteers,” said Brown. The district has sent thousands of e-mails to individuals and organizations in the Denver area. Channels 9 and 2 have also helped publicize the league.
The No Limits league in Alpharetta started its first season with the assistance of “Big Sisters” from the 600-family girls' softball league. Today the volunteer base includes city administrators, senior citizens, at-risk youth from the Police Athletic League, Beta Clubs from high schools, and other community groups. The active roster has grown to 400 families.
Michigan's league has grown from 50 players in the first year to 200 players in the second; it anticipates 400 players this spring. It is also separating from the national organization as it opens up to adult players. Volunteers come from high school, middle schools, churches, and synagogues.
Professional baseball teams also have pitched in. In Michigan, the registration fee includes a hat, major-league jersey, trophy, and Detroit Tigers tickets. The Tigers play with the kids and hold Miracle League Day once a year at Comerica Field. A video of the league is featured on the screen and a Miracle League player throws the opening pitch.
The Atlanta Braves mascot sometimes visits the North Metro Miracle League (NMML) games. When the NMML hosted a baseball and softball tournament fundraiser, the Braves sent its “Street Team”—a group of college-age youth employed by the Braves organization—to compete. Also, in the fall of 2005 the Braves Foundation donated $10,000.
In Colorado, Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings donated $50,000 toward construction; the Rockies Foundation matched the gift. Organizers also anticipate Rockies support in its first season, starting next month.
“Our goal is to be a clearing house for information on adaptive fields and leagues,” said McLaughlin. “Our concept is to build for the entire community and include folks with disabilities.” No Limits's success helped Alpharetta become one of eight cites with a population of 50,000 to receive the 2005 James C. Howland Award for Municipal Enrichment from the National League of Cities in December.
— Carder is a Denver-based business writer.For more information, visit:
Michigan Miracle League: www.michiganmiracle.org
Mile High Miracle League: www.mhmlbb.org
No Limits: www.nmml.net