New Ball Field Will Give Kids With Disabilities a Place to Play

By Beacon Staff

Right now it’s just a field of dirt and mud.

In a year, this will be a field of dreams.

At a barren field at the Kidsports athletic complex near Flathead Valley Community College, construction is under way to help create a state-of-the-art ball field for children with disabilities. The field is being built along with four conventional ball fields, but this field is unusual: it has a special synthetic surface that allows children with disabilities — mental or physical — to compete in sports like baseball or soccer. With a smooth surface the field allows children in wheelchairs to run (or wheel) the bases like able-bodied kids.

The Kalispell Rotary Club is helping build Montana’s first “Miracle League” field. The Miracle League is a national charitable organization that provides children with mental or physical disabilities the opportunity to play organized sports. The first field of its kind was built in Conyers, Georgia.

The Kalispell Miracle League field will be an addition to several other baseball, soccer and football fields at the Kidsports complex.

The Kalispell Rotary Club is committing $100,000 to help build the field, which will cost over $300,000 total, according to club president Nancy Manning. She said the Rotary Club— one of the largest service organizations in Kalispell with over 125 members — first heard of the Miracle League fields when Kidsports official Dan Johns made a presentation to the club about a year ago.

By the time Johns had finished his presentation about Miracle League to the club, Manning said, there were more than a few people in tears. Manning, too, had been so moved by the idea of building a sports facility for children with disabilities she pushed the club’s board to endorse the project. To date they’ve raised $20,000 toward their goal. That figure was helped by a $2,500 donation from the Kalispell Lions Club, Manning said.

“We’re so excited,” Manning added. “People’s hearts just went out for this project when we learned about it. Rotary is focused on kids, and this just seemed to be a natural for us.”

The Kalispell Miracle League field is slated for completion in 2008. The field will serve over 600 people with disabilities, according to Williams, who noted that having the field in Kalispell will allow it to play host to events like Special Olympics.

To make a donation or learn more about the Miracle League field, call Rotary Club public relations officer Tamara Williams at Kalispell Insty Prints, 752-8812.

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