Town supportive of baseball Miracle
Published: May 30, 2008 | 7079th good news item since 2003
Could a “Miracle League” baseball field be coming to Amherstburg?
If town council, Amherstburg Minor Baseball and the Amherstburg Rotary Club have their way, the answer will be a resounding yes.
A Miracle League field would be the first of its kind in Canada with 172 currently under construction in the United States. The field is a synthetic surface which is designed to allow children with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball. The surface is similar to the Rotary Club Inclusive Playground which is currently under construction at Toddy Jones Park. The local field would be constructed next to a premier baseball field at Larry Bauer Park. Early estimates on cost have it between $300,000-$325,000.
Rotary Club president-elect Mike Vossen said it was a great feeling to see kids getting a chance to get a hit and score a run.
“It was an idea stared in Conyers, Georgia in 1999 by a Rotary Club down there,” he explained. “We want to bring it to Canada and put the first one in Amherstburg.”
Vossen added that several local Rotarians have visited a similar facility in Michigan and have seen it benefit that area. He believes that building a Miracle League field locally would benefit the town and this region.
“This is my dream, to build a field in Amherstburg,” said Vossen. “This isn’t just an Amherstburg thing. This is an Essex County thing.”
According to a report from Manager of Recreation Services Ron Dzombak, a “new allegiance” has been formed between Rotary and Amherstburg Senior Baseball’s Chuck Bondy to build the field south of the proposed premier baseball field at Larry Bauer Park. Minor Baseball is seeking a $75,000 Trillium Grant for the premier field with that organization offering assistance to help build the Miracle League field.
“The baseball initiative can be accommodated within the Bauer Park area without any impact on existing soccer fields. Additional acquisition of lands is required to expand soccer and baseball facilities,” Dzombak wrote.
Dzombak, who himself has a son with a disability, said that once constructed the fields would offer “an inclusive environment where sport and understanding come together and where able bodies and children with disabilities watch each other learn baseball, grow and enjoy the same sport. The co-operative nature of this unique development between these two longstanding organizations within Amherstburg demonstrates the strength in this community towards children.”
Councillor Bob Pillon said Dzombak is “doing a heck of a job” and voiced his full support for the project.
“This town is going to work with you and do everything we can to get this off the ground,” said Pillon.
Rotarian Alison Baldwin said the project could also impact other children, noting her daughter was able to volunteer with disabled children. She firmly believed the project will occur.
“This is a very giving town. This is a town with a huge heart,” she said. “This is a town that does follow through.”
Mayor Wayne Hurst said he too visited the Michigan facility and that “they do a tremendous service to that particular region.” He said Amherstburg is a great community that has people that want it to be sustainable.
“Big things happen when you do the little things right,” said Hurst.
In a related note, council endorsed a new baseball tournament at Centennial Park run in conjunction with St. Francis Advocates. Dzombak noted that in 2007, Bondy approached the town in requesting assistance in producing a baseball tournament to benefit children with disabilities in conjunction with St. Francis Advocates. The latter group operates residential homes across Essex, Kent and Lambton counties. The tournament will be June 28 and will see roughly 80 children playing baseball in a “supportive ‘everyone-wins’ event.”
“There will be other associations (involved) from around the county,” said Bondy.
Deputy Mayor Robert Bailey said he was thrilled to see the event come to town particularly one where children of all abilities can participate. He also thought it would help bring people to town and was glad to see a vision from community individuals.
Councillor Rick Fryer applauded Bondy for stepping forward and bringing the event to town while Mayor Wayne Hurst said council was prepared to help ensure the tournament is successful.
“A vision without a plan is only a dream,” said Hurst.Tow