PHOTOS: Miracle League DFW Hosts First Baseball Game For Special Needs Children Since Pandemic
For the first time since the pandemic began, more than 200 children with special needs and their families stepped back on the field for a rowdy baseball game on Saturday.
The nonprofit Miracle League DFW hosts sporting events with some changes to make the games more inclusive. Players participating in the adaptive baseball game are allowed to hit the ball as many times as they like, while the buddy system and softer turf make it easier to play.
It was the first time rookies were able to play the opening games with a team after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The games began with the minor division for 4-10 year olds at Randol Mill Park in Arlington. The senior division of children ages 8 to 14 and older played on an adjacent field.
“The players' expressions say it all,” said Grace Whetstone, executive director of Miracle League. “Being able to give everyone the opportunity to play baseball, regardless of their abilities, is a dream come true.”
Some VIPs made an appearance, such as Arlington Mayor Jim Ross, who threw the ceremonial first pitch after some Miracle League players sang the National Anthem in true baseball fashion. City Council Member Victoria Farrar-Myers and new Arlington Police Chief Al Jones also attended.
It’s not just the Miracle League volunteers and community that make these games possible. The Miracle League field is specially designed with cushioned synthetic turf and wheelchair-accessible dugouts to fit the needs of children with all kinds of disabilities. Founder Doug Inman raised the initial $400,000 to build the field on land donated by the City of Arlington.
Children took turns at tee, where they were assisted by a coach or parent. After each child hit the ball, a round of applause erupted from the families in the stands.
The field was lively as a number of smaller games unfolded. As the children made the rounds to each of the bases, some played their own games of catch, or simply ran around to let off steam.
In their Blue Jays, Rangers, Astros, and Cubs jerseys, each player was excited to be back on the field, representing their team.
The 2021 fall season will continue until Oct. 16, and Miracle League is still looking for volunteers. Find more information to sign up here.
Keren Carrión is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Got a tip? Email Keren at Kcarrion@kera.org. You can follow Keren on Twitter @kerencarrion8.
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