Play ball!

27 Aug
field

A nice photo of Challenger Miracle Field snapped by Mary Holleran

I was honored to be on hand yesterday for the official opening ceremonies for Challenger Miracle Field, a beautiful new sports facility for young athletes with developmental, physical or intellectual disabilities.

It’s located in Ridge Park, 1000 Ridge Road, behind Town Hall. It looks a lot like the Little League fields you’re familiar with, but it’s actually different in a lot of important ways.

It’s totally flat, for starters. There’s no dirt, and no grass. The pitcher’s mound and bases are not raised at all, but instead are painted into the brightly-colored rubberized artificial surface, which allows for all players to round the bases without fear of tripping, whether they’re walking, running, using a wheelchair or walker. The outfield fence is much closer to home than normally, allowing these children a real chance to hit a home run. And the fence is removable so the field can be adapted for other sports.

The field was built especially for the Challenger teams, who are typically given the lowest priority for field availability and only get to play if fields are not in use by other Little League, school or town teams. But the developers also made it clear that the field is available for use by the community; it’s for children and adults of all abilities.

There were a lot of accolades handed out at the almost one-hour long ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday, but one of the comments especially stood out.

At least one speaker called the new Miracle Field a “field of dreams.” That’s a phrase that’s tossed about a lot these days for lesser accomplishments, but I think it fits here.

In Challenger Miracle Field, these kids now have the chance to experience the thrill of playing on a baseball field that looks and feels like the stadiums they see on TV. Every weekend, they can put on a jersey and a baseball cap, step (or roll) up to the plate, raise a bat and be just like any other kid who loves sports.

Thank you to everyone who made this field a reality. Your efforts and dedication have been well rewarded and you are right to be proud.

The work is not done, however. Completely handicapped-accessible restrooms and playground, and a pavilion are still being planned for construction early next year. Fundraising continues to accomplish these goals.

Your next opportunities to help out are at the

Webster Garlic Festival, September 9 and 10 at the Webster Parks and Recreation complex on Chiyoda Drive. Food, fun, and lots of garlic. Hours are 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

3rd Annual Run, Walk & Roll, October 8 at Webster Thomas High School, 800 Five Mile Line Road. I’ll be running this one, so please come out and join me and my friends.

You can read more about Challenger Miracle Field — and donate directly through the website — by clicking here.

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