Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Thousands of people in the community with special needs will soon have a new field to play baseball. The Miracle Field of Wichita, located at Orchard Park, will officially open on Saturday.
"I wanted Chance and all of the kids with similar issues to be able to play, to be a part of a team, to be cheered for in the stands," said Lainie Armstrong, founder of the Miracle League of Wichita.
When Lainie gave birth to her son, Chance, he weighed one pound 15 ounces. Doctors told her that Chance would never walk or talk. Today, Chance is 6-years-old and loves the game of baseball.
"When he turned three, I realized he would not have the opportunities to be on a baseball team, to have some of the experiences of other kids, so I created 'For the Love of Chance Center,'" said Armstrong.
The Center helped bring the "Miracle League" to Wichita. During the first season in 2009, they had 40 players and four teams. Today, they have 91 players, 9 teams, and 115 volunteers.
"These kids are actually getting to play. Their names are on the back of the uniforms. Their names are going to be announced over the loud speakers. They're getting the same opportunities that every other kid, that enjoys sports, is getting play this summer," said Armstrong.
Each player is paired up with a volunteer called an "angel in the outfield" to assist him/her in the game of baseball.
"Seeing the joy on their face bring joy to us, the volunteers, and that's what it's all about. It's just about giving these kids an opportunity that they might not be able to have," said Laynna Wiggins, Chance's "angel" volunteer.
The new field is made of rubber safety surfacing that will allow people with wheelchairs to use the field. There are also spectator stands for the fans to cheer on the players.
"They get everything here. They've got lights. They've got scoreboards. They've got dugouts. This is primo for any athlete to come out here, but it's a special treat for us to give something to the kids that wouldn't normally have access to this type of opportunity," said Doug Kupper, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Wichita.
The $366,000 field was paid for by grants, donations, and the citizens of Wichita.
Everyone involved is hoping for a big turnout and for the league to continue growing.
"I just hope that the city of Wichita can come out and support these kids, the way that they do regular needs leagues," said Wiggins.
A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the Miracle Field on Saturday, 9 a.m. The opening game of the Miracle League of Wichita will follow the ceremony.
For more information about the Miracle League of Wichita, click here.
For more information about the Miracle Field, click here.