05/16/2009 12:08 PM ET
Pirates Charities partners with Miracle League of southwestern Pennsylvania to open first Miracle League field in greater Pittsburgh area
New field allows special needs children to realize dream of playing baseball
Pirates Charities, the philanthropic arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania (MLSWPA) today officially opened Pirates Charities Miracle League Field. The baseball field, which is designed specifically for children with special needs, is the first of its kind in the Pittsburgh area.
The new field, located in Cranberry Township's new Dick's Sporting Goods Sportsplex at Graham Park, is made of a synthetic surface to make it possible for children in wheelchairs, walkers and with other special needs to safely move about the field. It also features an ADA compliant concession stand, dugouts, and restrooms and includes lights that will allow the children to play night games.
Pittsburgh Pirates and Pirates Charities Chairman Bob Nutting was joined at the grand opening event by Pirates President Frank Coonelly, MLSWPA President Mike Sherry, various Pirates and community officials, as well as 130 children participating in the first game on the field, along with their families.
"Nothing makes this project more rewarding for me personally than to see the smiles on the faces of these children as their proud parents and loved ones look on. It is what the Pirates Charities Miracle League Field is all about," said Nutting. "It will allow hundreds of children throughout our region to realize the dream of playing baseball, while also giving them and their families a chance to develop positive relationships with their peers and other families facing similar challenges."
Pirates Charities committed $200,000 towards the construction of the field, which includes a $50,000 contribution from Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez and his wife Alissa. The Pirates Charities Miracle League Field now serves the entire Southwestern Pennsylvania area.
"The grand opening of the Pirates Charities Miracle League Field is truly an amazing thing for Southwestern Pennsylvania. It is not only the first of its kind in the region, but it was made possible by the love, support, generosity and dedication of so many wonderful volunteers who worked tirelessly to build a field of this caliber," said Mike Sherry, MLSWPA President. "Thanks to the generosity of individuals like Bob Nutting, Freddy and Alissa Sanchez and countless others, this dream has become a reality starting today."
According to 2000 census statistics, nearly 90,000 special needs children reside in the counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Lawrence, Mercer, Westmoreland and Venango alone. The Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania is open to any special needs child who wants to play.
Affiliated with the national Miracle League Baseball organization, the MLSWPA is a registered 501(c) 3 organization that reached an agreement with Cranberry Township to provide land for the Miracle League field as part of the baseball complex that the Township is developing in Graham Park. In addition, the MLSWPA has an agreement with the Cranberry Township Athletic Association to handle operating the league on a day-to-day basis once league play begins.
About Pirates Charities
Pirates Charities, the philanthropic arm of arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is a 501(c)3 organization that focuses on three core areas of youth health, fitness and education. Based on these core areas, the objective of Pirates Charities is outlined in the charitable foundation's mission statement:
Pirates Charities is committed to strengthening the community by supporting organizations and programs aimed at improving the lives of children and adults in the greater Pittsburgh region. Pirates Charities places a special emphasis on supporting youth programs focused on health, fitness, and education by developing partnerships with those who share in our mission.
In 2008, the Pirates and Pirates Charities assisted more than 2,200 organizations. To learn more about Pirates positive impact in the community, visit www.pirates.com/community.
About The Miracle League
The Miracle League concept was developed in Conyers, GA in 2000. It was decided that each player would bat once each inning that all batters would be safe and score a run before the inning was over. "Games" are two innings long and each team and each player always wins. Integral to the Miracle League concept is the "Buddy System." Buddies assist all Miracle League players. These buddies are mainstream children who play baseball or are members of youth church groups, boys and girls scouts, and other volunteer groups or simply individuals of any age who want to get involved.
There are currently more than 200 Miracle League organizations across the world, including Puerto Rico and Canada. More than 120 have completed field construction while the rest remain in various stages of development. More than 80,000 special needs children and young adults participate in these Miracle Leagues.