Philanthropy Friday: The Miracle League
For this week’s Philanthropy Friday I had the pleasure of interviewing Christy Fields, Director of the Miracle League of Central Ohio. The Miracle League cannot change or cure the medical issues life has dealt children with disabilities. But what they do is provide these children with an opportunity to experience the joy and benefits that come from playing America’s national pastime – baseball!
MS: Give me a brief background on the organization. How did it start?
CF: The Miracle League is a baseball league for children with disabilities. It started with a movement from a few individuals who were interested in engaging the city of Dublin in a project to support students with disabilities. There was a group of about five people who began recruiting players, volunteers and soliciting donations to build a field, as well as a playground that would be accessible to people with all different abilities. The City of Dublin donated land and supported the group with publicity.
This year we will have approximately 250 players. We play two innings where every child has a chance to bat and a chance to play in the field each inning. Every player gets a hit. There are no outs and the game always ends in a tie. We currently have 16 teams that play games all day Saturday starting at 9:45 a.m. with the last one at 6:30 p.m. We also have four night league teams that play games on Monday and Thursday nights at 7p.m.
MS: Whom do you serve? Who can benefit from your organization?
CF: We serve people with many different disabilities ranging in ages and their families. Children of all ages access our playground at all times as well as the accessible pavilion and picnic tables. They are able to interact with their nondisabled family members who are often unable to engage with them on other playgrounds or picnic areas. We have a Saturday Baseball league that began in May and runs through July for players of all ages ranging from 3-20. We have a night baseball league that supports players with skills that are a little more refined and that league works with children in their teens through adults with disabilities.
Everyone involved benefits! We have players who travel upwards of an hour each way to play their games each week. Parents have told us stories of their children sleeping in their uniforms, or waking up dressed and ready to go at 7:00am. In some cases we have been rained out and still had players out at the field because they love it so much they just want to play. Relationships have formed over the years that are five years old. We have players who started out playing in wheelchairs who are now using walkers and players who used to need help locating first base that are now beating their buddies. The growth we see in the players and the relationships they build with buddies ranging from 12 years old to adults are ones that can never be replaced and that the players and families will cherish for a lifetime.
MS: How can people donate?
CF: People can donate money at Huntington banks for the Miracle League of Central Ohio. Checks made out to the Miracle League can also be mailed to:
Miracle League of Central Ohio, Inc.
PO Box 1303
Dublin, OH 43017
MS: What other needs or calls to action does the Miracle League of Central Ohio have?
CF: We would love to make the league completely free to all our players. We charge a minimal fee to support the insurance costs we pay and pay for uniforms and equipment through donations. With costs rising it is becoming more and more difficult to keep our fees low.
We would also love to see people out at the field as spectators or to sponsor a day with food and snacks for all of the players. Special events are so much fun and the players, families and volunteers truly appreciate them.
MS: What types of volunteer opportunities do you have within your organization?
CF: Our league could not function without our amazing volunteers. Each of our over 200 players in the Saturday league has a buddy who plays with them every game. They are trained and become a part of their players’ life. All of our coaches are volunteers and the board that organizes the league is made up almost completely by volunteers. We are always looking for people to help is a variety of capacities within our league. To learn more about the Buddy Program click here. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer email, [email protected].
For more information on the Ohio Miracle League visit www.ohiomiracleleague.org, or find them on Facebook at Ohio Miracle League.
Philanthropy Friday is a feature article by Michele Savoldi that highlights a Columbus area nonprofit organization every other week. For more nonprofit information follow Michele on Twitter at @cbusimpressions and @inkindconnect.