League of Miracles Offers “Field of Dreams” to Special Needs Individuals & Families
Did you know Morgan County has its own “Field of Dreams,” but without Kevin Costner? Behind Madison Township Fire Department on Landersdale Road is the League of Miracles (LOM), a well-maintained baseball field providing fun and hope to special needs individuals and their families.
Ten years ago a group of people recognized special needs kids didn’t have a place to enjoy recreational sports. With support from the Mooresville Kiwanis Club, they formed League of Miracles and raised $275,000 to build a baseball field.
“We adopted the same attitude they had in “Field of Dreams,” believing if you will build it, they will come,” said LOM Executive Director Nicole Kendall. “It worked.”
Kendall joined the organization last year when former LOM board member Jod Woods asked her to help promote the League using her Marketing experience.
“Special needs kids were sitting on the sidelines watching their siblings and friends having fun. They couldn’t participate,” added Kendall. “We wanted them to feel celebrated, included and enjoy some of the things that everyone else can.”
Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) supports this worthwhile cause.
CFMC has supported the League of Miracles in the form of a fund since 2008. Donations to the League can be made online at www.cfmconline.org.
In 10 years, LOM has grown from a $275,000 to $800,000 facility, including bleachers, concession stand, four fully-accessible restrooms, and a 40’ x 60’ air-conditioned community room. Safety is a priority. The field is made from rubber so players in wheelchairs or using walkers get around the bases.
LOM’s partnership with Damar Services allows many special needs children and adults to enjoy playing ball, having fun and making new friends. Damar Services in Indianapolis provides one-on-one services for individuals with behavioral and developmental disabilities. They also offer support services for families and caregivers.
Kendall quickly dispelled the myth special needs individuals are not aware of what’s going on around them. “Don’t discount them because they have special needs. They feel your presence. They are excited, feel celebrated, and every person deserves to have someone in their corner,” she added.
There are too many memorable moments for Nicole to count when asked about the kids who come to have fun. She said there’s a young Damar player who not only loves to play ball but also enjoys watering the flowers. “I sit at the announcer’s table next to the flagpole. When he’s finished playing ball, he brings me a cup of water and asks to water the flowers,” she said.
While more kids were coming to play ball, Nicole said she saw the League had a greater need – spectators.
“When I showed up to watch my first game, I saw kids having a great time. However, there weren’t a lot of people watching and cheering for them,” Kendall added. “I led the initiative of having no empty bleachers. Last Fall, both bleachers were full. It was amazing for the kids to see.”
Youth groups wanted as LOM volunteers.
Nicole’s mission this year is to get people to keep coming back, both spectators and volunteers. “I’m a big advocate for youth groups coming out to help, whether it’s an athletic team or the Boys Scouts and Girls Scouts. We’ve had enormous support from our local schools. Volunteering with us is really easy, because all you have to do is cheer for the kids,” she added.
Volunteers are 12 years of age and older and not required to have special needs training. They just need to love kids. There’ something for everyone, whether it’s working in the concession stand, sitting in the bleachers as a cheerleader, or being a “buddy” on the field.
LOM serves special needs children ages five and up with any type of disability. They also have individuals in their 20s who grew up in the league and still play ball. Kendall is contacting disabled veterans groups to find volunteers for an adult league.
Baseball season at LOM starts in June. Teams play through the month of July and break during August due to hot weather. The season picks back up in September and ends the first week in October.
Keep checking the LOM website for the upcoming game schedule. Families and individuals can register online at www.leagueofmiracles.com. Financial assistance to pay for registration is also available.
Special needs children are an inspiration for others.
“These kids inspire me not to give up on my goals in life and live every day by enjoying each moment,” Kendall said. “I move at the speed of light because I wear too many hats, but when I’m at the field, I just enjoy those kids. We need to make a bigger deal out of the small things in life.”
LOM is always needing individuals, businesses and other organizations to be a sponsor. Every player receives a shirt and hat with a sponsor logo on the front and player’s name on the back. Celebration Sponsors can help pay for trophies or medallions and a treat (popsicle) players receive at the end of every game. Field sponsorships, such as banners and signs, are also available.
Today, be a life changer for the players at League of Miracles by either donating or becoming a sponsor through CFMC. Go to www.cfmconline.org or email us at email@example.com.
CFMC’s mission is to connect donors and their charitable giving with our evolving community needs in order to enhance the quality of life for current and future generations through impact grantmaking. The vision of CFMC is to be the philanthropic leader and a catalyst in order to maximize available resources in our community.