WHEELING - Come spring, youngsters with special needs will be playing baseball on a field of their own at the J.B. Chambers I-470 baseball complex.
Representatives of the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Run and Walk and the Pirates Charities late last week presented a $15,000 check to Miracle League of the Ohio Valley organizer Lorraine McCardle and Easter Seals' Lorie Untch to assist with construction of the special field. The funds are the proceeds from this year's Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic, which was held in May.
The $800,000 Miracle Field, which McCardle said will be finished and ready for play once the weather warms next year, is designed with a synthetic playing surface to allow children who use wheelchairs and walkers and those with other special needs to safely enjoy America's pastime - baseball.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Shown with a $15,000 check from the annual race to the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley are, from left, Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register; Robert Nutting, chief executive officer of the Ogden Newspapers Inc. and chairman of Pirates Charities; Miracle League organizer Lorraine McCardle; Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center President and CEO Lorie Untch; and Ogden Half Marathon Classic Race Director Robert “Scat” Scatterday.
McCardle has spearheaded the four-year effort to build a Miracle Field in Wheeling, as her son, Austin, suffers from Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease, a genetic condition that requires him to use a walker. Miracle League players have been traveling around the region for the past several years to play at other Miracle League fields and also have played at regular baseball fields in the local area.
That all changes in 2013.
The surface for the local field is down, the fencing is in place and workers are nearing completion of the dugout/concession area. McCardle said only a few items remain - primarily bleachers and additional paving - for the field to be finished.
"This is a wonderful amount from the Ogden race," McCardle said. "The Ohio Valley is such a great place. People are so giving.
"Everyone has been so generous. For the Ohio Valley to be this close to opening its own Miracle League field, with the economy as it's been ... I can't describe how awesome everyone has been."
The total contribution from the annual Ogden race now exceeds $32,000, as race organizers also donated proceeds from the 2010 event.
Robert Nutting, chief executive officer of the Ogden Newspapers Inc. and chairman of Pirates Charities, said partnering with the Miracle Field makes sense. After all, the whole idea with the Ogden race was to transform it into a community event, "to find something the community could rally around," he noted.
"The race is and needs to be a community rallying point where we come together and celebrate," Nutting said. "That has happened with the Miracle Field."
Pirates Charities has partnered with the local Miracle League field to help with planning and fundraising. The organization also is working with local officials and Easter Seals to help raise awareness within the community.
Ogden Half Marathon Race Director Robert "Scat" Scatterday also thanked the race sponsors, participants and volunteers for making the donation possible.
"A lot of people had their hands in producing this result. I was privileged to be part of that team," Scatterday said.