Group tries to make a Miracle happen in Hamilton

Published: March 28, 2007 | 5890th good news item since 2003

Everything about a Miracle League field is flat, except the emotion surrounding it.

Founded in Atlanta seven years ago as a way to give physically disabled children an opportunity to play baseball, the Miracle League has been such an overwhelming and empowering success that it has spread into 42 states with 170 chapters servicing more than 25,000 players.

And if a group of local men has its way, a new chapter and will be sprouting in Butler County sometime soon.

Kim Nuxhall, the executive director of the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund, and former Bengals kicker Doug Pelfrey, founder of the Kicks for Kids organization, are hoping to build a Miracle League field in Joyce Park at the site of the old batting cages.

“A big piece of my heart is right there on that land,” said Nuxhall, who owned and operated the batting cages from 1976-91. “My entire summers were spent there for 15 years, so to have something like this follow something like that is really neat.”

Miracle League fields, which can cost between $185,000 to $230,000 to build, feature a rubberized turf to help keep all participants safe. The bases and pitcher’s mound are flat to allow easy navigation for players who use wheelchairs, walkers or crutches.

Miracle League games follow five standard rules:

• Every player bats once each inning;

• All base runners are safe;

• Every player scores a run before the inning is over;

• Community children and volunteers serve as “buddies” to assist the players;

• Each team and each player wins every game.

“Miracle League baseball does the same thing that regular leagues do for mainstream children, which is provide an opportunity for friendship and an opportunity to take your limitations to another level,” said Diane Alford, executive director and co-founder of the Miracle League. “There are countless testimonials of children who started out using wheelchairs and walkers who are now able to get around the bases on their own without those vehicles.”

Pelfrey, whose Kicks for Kids organization owns the batting cages and adjacent land in Joyce Park, said that while things are still in the early planning stages, the idea has him excited.

“It fits in with our mission,” Pelfrey said. “And that’s to provide opportunities for kids who are mentally or physically challenged or challenged by the environment in which they live.”

Charley Frank, director of the Reds Community Fund and Reds Rookie Success League, also is on board.

“All three of us have been very moved and inspired by the Miracle League message,” Frank said.

Published in Charity, Miracle League
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